Watching Jacques Nolot's Before I Forget, I couldn't help thinking of my friend Arthur Lazere, the late film critic and creator of the still-operational site culturevulture.net, ("Choices for the Cognoscenti"). Arthur was gay and in his 60s when he succumbed to a long illness in 2006; he loved movies but he rarely found one that pleased him, or rather spoke to him in particular. The Barbarian Invasions (2003) was one of his favorites, I remember, and I enjoyed talking to -- and arguing with -- him about it and many other films. I wish I could have talked with him about Before I Forget, a film about a HIV+ gay man nearing his 60s. I admired the film all on my own, but Arthur would have got it.
That's actually one of the best things about Before I Forget, which was selected as one of last year's ten best films by Cahiers du Cinema; it's the uncompromising work of an artist making a film for himself, rather than targeting a demographic. Jacques Nolot mainly works as an actor, with roles in films like Claire Denis' Nenette & Boni (1996), Francois Ozon's Under the Sand (2001) and many André Téchiné films, including The Witnesses from earlier this year. He has written and directed three feature films, all starring himself: L'Arrière pays (1998), Porn Theater (2002) and this one. The three films are certainly homosexual and appear to be at least partly autobiographical, and even if they're not, Nolot still opens himself up totally: in an early sequence, his character Pierre wakes up, throws up, pops some pills makes some coffee and walks around his apartment, naked. His thinning hair and thin moustache are perfectly placed, but his sagging belly shows a losing battle with age.