“A YEAR WITHOUT LOVE’
Life at the Bottom
“A Year Without Love” (Strand Releasing) is a realistic view at the world during the time of AIDS—a period in our history that we should never allow ourselves or the world to forget. It is set in 1996 and is a voyeuristic peek into the life of a 30 year Argentinean writer, Pablo Perez (Juan Minujin) who is infected with the disease. He feels alone and walks the streets looking for love. He visits sex clubs and porn stores to relieve the alienation he feels, he is set apart from everything—his family, his lovers and even the disease he carries. Finally he finds relief when his curiosity is aroused by an ad in a gay paper having to do with sadomaschochism. And with that I must say that this is not an easy film to watch but is extremely worthwhile.
The picture actually occurs when the AIDS cocktail was beginning to give hope to those living with the disease. This may make it a hard film to watch for some who were not so lucky to get the cocktail but it is a film worth watching. Pablo attempts to have a social life even though he knows that he does not have a lot of time left to live. He was not eligible to get on the new medications and he des not want AZT. Feeling despondent and lonely he seeks out people for sexual purposes Ultimately he decides to write his diary of the AIDS years but the publication of the book serves to pull him even farther from his family and he realizes that he is condemned to a life of nothingness.
The movie is very real and therefore very gritty, Filmed apparently with a hand held camera it exposes the dark and depressing side of Argentina. This is a movie about desire and sickness and the need to belong somewhere. The SM scenes are a microcosm of society at large, a world where it is almost impossible to connect.
It is hard to tell whether Pablo is looking for love or running from death. When pneumonia overtakes him, he feels his life is gone and his life becomes one of denial, His walks are escapes from the true brutality of this life and he wanders through a menageries of sexual partners and thereby cuts himself off from his family and from the true feelings he has about AIDS which he is carrying. His sex life is more as a voyeur than as a participant.
The darkness of the film emphasizes the reality of the world and I really began to associate myself with his struggles, His pain and the SM experiences he has are depressing and therefore very real.
Pablo never ever gets what he really wants. Even when he goes to remission with his disease, his search for love is never fulfilled He does end up somewhat resilient to himself but we have literally watched him and his life go down the drain.
I imagine it must be very hard to live like Pablo does. Many of us have known people who went through this to a degree. Knowing that you don’t have much hope for a good life is a depressing thought in itself. Dragging yourself down because you can’t accept yourself is worse. To me this was a movie that had to be made—now especially because we do not see people like this anymore. This is was a very real aspect of gay life and as I said, many of us know people who went through it. For those of you did not have that opportunity, it is important to know what it was like. I applaud the movie and the people who made it. Maybe it is not a pretty story but it is a real slice of our lives.