Before I Forget Movie Review
Pierre (Jacques Nolot), who has been HIV-positive for more than 20 years, made his way through much of his life as a hustler, or, to put it in more upper-class terminology, a gigolo. Attached for years to a wealthy older lover named Toutoune, who has recently died, he finds himself financially drained, cheated out of an inheritance from Toutoune, and pretty much adrift. He's concerned about his health but not concerned enough to go on a stronger drug cocktail out of fear of side effects such as hair loss. Flashes of vanity like this are amusing, even to Pierre, because he's certainly well aware that he isn't what he used to be.
Filling his days hiring rough-trade rent boys to humiliate him and then heading out to the café to gossip about his activities with a small group of friends, most of whom are semi-closeted 60-somethings with their own rent boy habits, Pierre doesn't care much what happens next. Even his visits to a psychologist are short, vague, and ultimately useless. Beauty, culture, and love have all taken a back seat to money, a fact made clear by the amount of time the movie devotes to discussions of devious financial tactics that can be used to hide income.
Jacques Nolot, who has visited the gray and sleazy streets of Paris's Pigalle district before, most notably in the exceptionally seedy but very interesting Porn Theatre, has a great handle on dissolution and loneliness in the modern urban environment. This is one of those films where the protagonist lives in a big and crowded city and yet wanders streets that are empty. Where is everyone? At home with their families, friends, and lovers, Nolot suggests.
Given the bleakness of the situation, it's notable that Nolot wraps things up with a coda that, if not happy, is at least somewhat encouraging, in a totally bent way. Pierre's favorite rent boy Marc (Bastien d'Asnières), who gets off on sadism and manipulation, demands that Pierre put on drag and walk the streets of Pigalle with him. In one more bit of vanity, Pierre is reluctant to shave his mustache, but once he's dolled up and the camera grabs and holds his pensive face, the sadness of the situation gives way to something else. Pierre may not be happy, but at least he's finally trying something new.
Aka Avant que j'oublie.
Where's my mustard?