Drama / History

IMDb Rating 7.5 10 7931


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Trevor 9 / 10

Highly Recommended - One of the best films of the year

TThis is one of the best films of the year. 120 Beats Per Minute dramatises a dramatic few (early) years of ACT UP Paris, a direct action AIDS advocacy group. The film opens by initially presenting many different participants in meetings and demonstrations to give an understanding of the diversity of the people affected by AIDS and the group itself. It then hones in on two main protagonists – Sean and Nathan. Sean is HIV positive yet starting to develop AIDS. His fiercely political and personal fight against AIDS, ignorance, fear and the lack of interest from Government, pharmaceutical companies and the general public to their personal plight is heightened by the growing number of deaths decimating the gay community around him and the little time he may have to live. Nathan is a new member to ACT UP, HIV negative, yet quickly learning about HIV, AIDS, drug interactions, scientific analysis, and the political and social landscape of AIDS. He eventually falls in love with Sean, and will eventually have to take care of him much earlier than expected. Both men are in their early 20's when we meet them and this is probably the most heartbreaking and devastating aspect of the film and its story- that this disease claimed so many young lives within a society that for the most part did not care about their plight and stigmatised them because they were gay, had AIDS, and / or did not like their sexual practices. The film follows ACT UP meetings, protest rallys and demonstrations (which are both shocking and humorously presented); alongside Sean and Nathan's growing relationship. One scene in particular I will never forget - when they gate crash a class at a high school to inform the students about safe sex, as nobody was informing them because of the sexual nature, and the camera keeps on returning to one young student mesmerised by the groups actions; showing how they did have an impact through their presence. All the performances are beautifully rendered, and while the running time may seem long it is understandable when seen in context with the emotionally powerful last quarter of the film. This film was an experience that haunted me for days afterward. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 8 / 10

Sobering look at the AIDS epidemic

"BPM" (2017 release from France; 140 min.; original title "120 battements par minute" or "120 beats per minute") brings the story of a group of activists in Paris, France who are trying to raise awareness as to the deadly epidemic going through the gay community in the early 90s. As the movie opens, the Paris branch of ACT UP is welcoming 4 new members to its ranks. We witness the meeting where there is strong debate as to what action to take. Along the way, the movie focuses on one particular guy, Sean, as he struggles, health and otherwise. To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

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. "BPM" easily blows "Philadelphia" out of the water. Bottom line: regardless of how you personally feel about the AIDS epidemic in the early 90s, "BPM" brings a sobering look and is nothing short of a masterful movie.

"BPM" 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 recent family visit in Belgium. The early evening screening where I saw this at in Antwerp, Belgium, was attended very nicely, somewhat to my surprise. I would think this will eventually make it to US theaters, although given the nature of the film, this certainly cannot be taken for granted. If you have a chance to check it out, I'd encourage you to do so.

Reviewed by drtodds 10 / 10

Part of 2017's Trifecta of Great Queer Cinema!

"BPM (Beats Per Minute)" (France 2017) With this film I have finally completed watching the Trifecta of Great Queer Cinema of 2017! Set in the early 1990's, this is the story of ACT UP -- Paris, a rebel activist group composed of those infected with HIV/AIDS and their allies. Their mission: to educate the public on HIV/AIDS & safe sex practices; to change the public perception and dialogue of the epidemic; and to pressure politicians and pharmaceutical companies to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. At times the film (clocking in at nearly 2 & 1/2 hours) drags a bit...especially when delving into some of the medical/scientific specifics of HIV or the laborious in-house debates at ACT UP's weekly meetings. But, the end result is a powerful, dark, and heavy testimony to the importance of political activism....and the struggles many in our community faced during the early days of the AIDS Era. Intermixed are themes of friendship, the power of community, and seeking love in the face of fear. This film is not as easy to watch at "Call Me By Your Name" or "God's Own Country" but certainly worth the added effort! [5/5]

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