Directed by: Anahi Berneri | 95 minutes | drama | Actors: Juan Minujín, Mimi Ardú, Javier Van Der Couter, Carlos Echevarría, Bárbara Lombardo, Osmar Nuñez, Ricardo Merkin, Carlos Portaluppi, Ricardo Moriello, Juan Carlos Rizzi
‘A year without love (2005)’ (a year without love) paints a realistic picture of a year in the life of Pablo (Juan Minujín), a writer who is confronted with an impending death because he has been found to be HIV positive. He spends his days keeping a diary, writing poems that he cannot put on the paving stones and giving extra lessons in French, interspersed with visits to the local hospital.
He shares an apartment with his garrul aunt and has sporadic contact between the lines with his father, who pays for the apartment and the necessary medicines, which he initially refuses to take. To escape the confrontation with the loneliness and encroaching symptoms of his illness, he takes refuge in dim porn theaters, places personals and ends up in the SM environment of Buenos Aires. His life seems to make sense again when he meets Martin during one of his meetings in the SM basement. Instead of love and affection, Pablo finds his misery only gets worse, even after his diary is finally released.
Despite the fact that the film gives the impression that Pablo draws comfort from his sexual escapades, the focus is nevertheless on his loneliness. The close-up images in the film continuously emphasize how small the writer’s world ultimately is. The minimal contact he has with his family is evident in a scene with his father in a restaurant, which shows that they have nothing to say to each other. A bright spot in his otherwise hopeless life are the contacts with his best friend Nicolas, who supports him in every way.
The erotic images used in the film provide an illuminating picture of the gay and SM scene and are subtly portrayed by Berneri. The images in the SM basement in particular, although they sometimes give the impression of a threatening atmosphere, are fascinating to see and are never repulsive, partly due to the fast editing and the light effects used. Berneri has managed not to turn a heavy theme like HIV into a melodrama. While it is a sketch of a debilitating illness, it also depicts dreams of better times and the hope that love can eventually lead to a cure. Unfortunately, the character of Pablo in the film does not immediately evoke affection, given that he apparently does not care about the concept of ‘safe sex’ and sometimes portrays a fairly selfish and distant character.
‘A year without love (2005)’ is the debut of the Argentinian Anahi Berneri, based on the published diary of the writer Pablo Pérez, who wrote the screenplay with her. They received production support from Daniel Burman, known for the film ‘El abrazo partido’. Earlier this year, ‘A year without love (2005)’ won the Golden Teddy award for best gay film at the Berlin Film Festival.