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BPM Beats Per Minute
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In Paris in the early 1990s, a group of activists goes to battle for those stricken with HIV/AIDS, taking on sluggish government agencies and major pharmaceutical companies in bold, invasive actions. The organization is ACT UP, and its members, many of them gay and HIV-positive, embrace their mission with a literal life-or-death urgency. Amid rallies, protests, fierce debates and ecstatic dance parties, the newcomer Nathan falls in love with Sean, the group s radical firebrand, and their passion sparks against the shadow of mortality as the activists fight for a breakthrough.
"A restless, engrossing dramatic portrait of Parisian activists fighting the AIDS pandemic in the early 1990s." --Los Angeles Times
BPM is a true and committed document, a worthy piece of filmmaking that keeps faith with the people it memorializes --San Francisco Chronicle
Passionate and defiant. Full of cinematic life --The Guardian
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with love and kindness
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie of French director Robin Campillo, who previously gave us the excellent "Eastern Boys". Here he goes a very different direction, looking back at the dark days when AIDS was raging and little or certainly not enough was done by the government (with multiple stabs at then-president Mitterand) and the pharmaceutical industry. One of the strengths of the movie is that Campillo on multiple occasions lets the scenes play out without hurrying. There is little or no music to speak off in the movie, and again that only results in the film being ever more impactful (the last 40 min. pack an emotional wallop). Even though the Sean character is central, the movie comes across as an ensemble piece, with lots of stellar performances. Last but certainly not least, when watching this, I couldn't help but think back to that other AIDS movie from 2 decades ago, the Tom Hanks-starring "Philadelphia", in the "Hollywood version" of what AIDS was about. "120 Beats Per Minute" easily blows "Philadelphia" out of the water as far as I'm concerned. Bottom line: regardless of how you personally feel about the AIDS epidemic in the early 90s, "120 Beats Per Minute" brings a sobering look and is nothing short of a masterful movie.
"120 Beats Per Minute" premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with immediate critical acclaim (winning, among others, the "Grand Prix" award--in essence the silver medal as compared to the "Palm d'Or" gold medal). I happen to catch this movie during a family visit in Belgium back in August. The early evening screening where I saw this at in Antwerp, Belgium, was attended very nicely, somewhat to my surprise. Given the nature of the film, I doubt this will even get a release in US theaters, but at least it's good that it's coming to Amazon Instant Video and I assume it eventually also will get a DVD/Blu-ray release.
Winner of the Cannes Fillm Festival's Grand Prix award.
Recognized as the Best Foreign Language Film of 2017 by the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association.
I'll leave you with Dana Stevens' Slate review: "Set in Paris in the early ’90s, Robin Campillo’s chronicle of the early days of the ACT UP movement is a feat of filmmaking, profoundly moving and inspiring without ever for a second being schmaltzy. True to its title, this movie pulses with life, sex, humor, and cinematic invention. It’s also an astute and honest exploration of the power and the perils of collective action, at a time when the world acutely needs a manual."