Cert: TBC Runtime: 144 mins Director: Robin Campillo Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois and Adèle Haenel
One of the biggest films to come from Cannes Film Festival was 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute). Unfortunately I missed it in May but finally I have seen this widely acclaimed film. Robin Campillo’s raw and realistic look at the AID’s crisis has made it a big award contender and France’s submission for the Academy Awards. So what is 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute) about? Drawing directly on personal experience, Robin Campillo’s extraordinary account of AIDS activist group ACT UP-Paris in the 1990s begins in the thick of it – at a group meeting. As members discuss action and debate strategy, a small gang of fresh recruits are welcomed into the fold. Among the newbies is introspective, HIV-negative Nathan, who finds himself instantly drawn to outspoken group member Sean. As Nathan becomes more involved in the group’s activities – from closed-off meetings to direct action in medical labs, school playgrounds and political rallies – his romantic relationship with Sean develops.
120 BPM has to be respected for it’s universal message on Healthcare. Yes it revolves around the AIDS crisis in France, but I do feel that Campillo’s film has a strong political message. The dialogue like any French film roles off tongue, it feels natural and organic. 120 BPM is mainly set during ACT UP’s meetings, full of amazing characters and debate. At one point I thought that the film was going to focus on more than two characters, but I was disappointed by this. I did want to learn more about Thiabult, Sara & co. It’s a great ensemble piece, good chemistry.This being said you can’t fault the two leads Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois. Nahuel was a great queen for 120 BPM, but inside he was a political activist with great passion. He grabs your attention from the get go and doesn’t leave your mind. Arnaud was a lot more subtle playing the non infected activist, his chemistry with Naheul really is the foundation of 120 BPM.
Campillo really know how to captivate an audience with aerial shots. They symbolise the global issue that the HIV crisis was. The march with all the crosses and the funeral processions being very emotional scenes for me. But Campillo did enjoy elongating some scenes, which were sometimes unnecessary. You can see what the conversations were leading too, Campillo could have cut minutes away from certain points. A run time of 144 minutes is very heavy going for an audience especially with this kind of subject matter. The only other key issue was the multiple endings Campillo seems like he couldn’t decide. The final march would of been a beautiful ending for me personally. But these issue shouldn’t deter you from watching 120 BPM. It’s a strong story that shows the brutal side of a horrible period in our history. 120 BPM has my respect and admiration but it’s too tough for me to watch again. Bitter and sweet and a great message. It’s a worthy film to be in the main competition at LFF 2017.