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120 Beats per Minute

France, French, 135 mins

Original Title

120 battements par minute...aka, BPM
  • Director: Robin Campillo
  • Writer: Robin Campillo
  • Producer: Hugues Charbonneau; Marie-Ange Luciani

CGiii Comment

At first, BPM is a torrent of words...said in anger, stained with frustration, wrought from fear...and, pinned down by rage!

Terrifying times...especially when the 'authorities' refused to grasp the gravity of the situation. Or, rather, they chose to downplay the whole crisis...after all, AIDS only affected fags, blacks, junkies and whores!

In 1986, British television viewers heard John Hurt chillingly say: There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all...It is a deadly disease and there is no known cure...Aids. Don't die of ignorance.

Norman [Lord] Fowler (health and social security secretary), Sir Donald Acheson (chief medical officer) and Willie Whitelaw...acted with defiance and determination...running the ad campaign, sending a graphic no-nonsense leaflet to every household in the country, followed by a week of educational programming scheduled at peak time on all four terrestrial channels. The desired effect was almost immediate, people were talking, they knew what was in their midst, what they were up against. Terrifying times, heartbreaking times.

Other countries were slow to follow...or, in truth, blankly refused to follow...after all, AIDS only affected fags, blacks, junkies and whores!

In 1987, Act-up was formed in America...as a direct response to the then president's refusal to act. Ronald Reagan.

In 1989, Act-up was formed in France...as a direct response to the then president's refusal to act. François Mitterrand.

Without Fowler and co's intervention, without Act-up's direct action...many, many more lives would have been needlessly lost.

No matter what you may have thought [or think] about Act-up's highly contentious brand of 'activism' - they, undoubtedly, made a mighty difference. Quite possibly, those of a certain age, reading this, have Act-up [& co] to thank for still being around!

We have to thank them for that fight. We have to thank Robin Campillo for this film. A document from a heartbroken heart. From an angry heart...

At first, BPM is a torrent of words...said in anger, stained with frustration, wrought from fear...and, pinned down by rage!

With considerable skill, step-by-step, those words - slowly - start to disappear. When rivers turn to blood, words have no effect on deafened ears...when death increasingly inches towards you, words are replaced by touch...a much needed and appreciated touch.

From the raging fire that he was...to the dying ember he becomes, Nahuel Perez Biscayart delivers a heart-stopping, totally involving performance, overseen and, with delicacy...directed by Mr Campillo. This is a beautifully designed soundscape of a short life...edited with a daring, draining vitality. Oh, those final moments...that pragmatism. So many deaths, so much love lost...Arnaud Valois' face is testament to that...

Again, Mr Campillo...we thank you...

Not just a film...but, a review...written from hearts that refuse to mend...there are just too many missing pieces.


Trailer...

The(ir) Blurb...

Paris, the early 1990s: a group of young activists is desperately tied to finding the cure against an unknown lethal disease. They target the pharmaceutical labs that are retaining potential cures, and multiply direct actions, with the hope of saving their lives as well as the ones of future generations.

Cast & Characters

Nahuel Perez Biscayart as Sean Dalmazo;
Arnaud Valois as Nathan;
Adele Haenel as Sophie;
Yves Heck as Le prof de francais;
Antoine Reinartz as Thibault;
Emmanuel Menard as Proviseur;
Francois Rabette as Michel Bernin;
Saadia Bentaieb as Mere Sean

From the same director:

Eastern Boys

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