Before I Forget

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NEW YORK -- It's doubtful that the seedy 'Before I Forget' will appeal much beyond a niche gay audience. The story of an aging ex-prostitute trying to hold his life together in the face of AIDS and increasing poverty is grim and gray. Director/screenwriter/actor Jacques Nolot's desire to depict a warts-and-all portrait of an AIDS victim is noble, but the resulting slew of introspection and self-loathing, interspersed with some grimy sexual trysts, is laborious.

'Before I Forget' is a character study waiting for a plot. Nolot's a proven actor and screenwriter -- he wrote Andre Techine's superior male prostitution story 'I Don't Kiss' -- and he uses his acting skills to give nuances the main character, Pierre. He a fifty-something former male prostitute who was encouraged to give up the game in his 40s by a wealthy lover. When his lover dies, he expects to inherit a fortune. But the money doesn't appear, and Pierre -- who also has AIDS -- gradually slides into poverty and despair.

Once the set-up has been established, there's very little to hold the viewer. The fact that the camera hardly ever moves adds to the monotony. A creative decision to generally eschew a musical soundtrack in favor of natural sound works to heighten the film's stark realism. The final scene, in which the desperate Pierre tries to turn tricks in a red dress and wig to the accompaniment of a clanging orchestral score, would be highly cinematic if it weren't thoroughly ridiculous.

For the record, Nolot covered similar territory in 1998's "The Back Country."

Distributed by Strand Releasing