It's probably worth mentioning at the get-go that A Year Without Love contains some graphic scenes of gay sex and bondage. Those with an intolerance should steer clear. That apart, Argentinian directorial debutant Anahi Berneri's existential drama is a decently made film that treads some now fairly familiar cinematic territory: coping with HIV. It charts a year in the life of Pablo, a lonely professor and struggling poet, who is HIV positive.
Pablo (Juan Minujín), one of those typical professor/poet types who could also make a living as a magazine cover model, lives a solitary and joyless life. He shares a truly grubby little flat with his useless aunt and, between frequent visits to the hospital for his failing respiratory system, he trawls the streets and personal ads looking for love. Actually, love doesn't seem to be that big a part of Pablo's motivation, but in this desperately poetic version of the Buenos Aires gay scene that's what they're calling it. Before long, Pablo finds the affirmation he craves in the world of leather (not the furniture shop, the other one).
"ENOUGH MATERIAL FOR A BOOK"
A bit of kinky business helps dislodge Pablo's writer's block and his bulging diary of S&M adventures and failing health provides him with enough material for a book. It's something of a challenge to accept Berneri's characters as deep thinkers when they're rolling around in dog collars and slapping each other on the backside, but this is a serious and sensitive depiction of an often ridiculed lifestyle.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
A Year without Love (Un Año Sin Amor) is released in UK cinemas on Friday 28th April 2006.