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120 battements par minute
BPM (Beats per Minute)
120 Battements par minute
120 BPM (Beats per Minute)
★★★★☆
First run Theater cinema

Writer/director/editor Robin Campillo [They Came Back (2004), The Class (2008), Eastern Boys (2013)] teams up with a former fellow ACT UP activist, screenwriter Philippe Mangeot, to create B.P.M., a riveting, fly-on-the-wall period piece about a group of activists in 1990s Paris, struggling to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Much of the film focuses on ACT UP’s internal conflicts around strategy, handling of public protests, and the best tone and tactics to use to reach those at greatest risk and those with the power to accelerate research towards a cure. The political narrative shifts almost imperceptibly into the personal story of a gay HIV-negative new arrival to ACT UP, Nathan (Arnaud Valois), who falls in love with a “pos” founding member of the chapter, Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart). 

The naturalism of the performances, along with tight shooting and quck editing, give B.P.M. a documentary-like feel, especially in the scenes that take place during ACT UP meetings. Yet we get to know the characters so quickly and on such a deep level that the policy and procedural debates draw us in in ways that few documentaries can. In several key ways, B.P.M. recalls How to Survive a Plague (2012)—the Oscar nominated, American documentary made from archive video footage taken in New York City during ACT UP’s beginning. Both films bring the past into the present. Both burn with an immediacy and intensity that is difficult to watch yet impossible to look away from. But B.P.M. achieves an exquisite balance between the personal and the political; the history and the humanity; the harrowing drama and the beauty that can be found within. 


Twitter Capsule:
A finely crafted cinematic memoir that feels as raw and real as a documentary. A period piece about vital, passionate, messy, sometimes misguided efforts to bring about critical societal change that buzzes with timely relevance. Both harrowing and beautiful.

Directed by Robin Campillo
Produced by Jacques Audiard, Hugues Charbonneau, and Marie-Ange Luciani

Written by Robin Campillo and Philippe Mangeot

With: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, Adèle Haenel, Antoine Reinartz, Felix Maritaud, Médhi Touré, Aloïse Sauvage, Simon Bourgade, Catherine Vinatier, Saadia Ben Taieb, Ariel Borenstein, Théophile Ray, Simon Guélat, Jean-François Auguste, Coralie Russier, and Samuel Churin

Cinematography: Jeanne Lapoirie
Editing: Robin Campillo, Stephanie Leger, and Anita Roth
Music: Arnaud Rebotini

Runtime: 140 min
Release Date: 23 August 2017
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color