Beats Per Minute tells the struggle of Act Up Paris activists against the indifference and the silence which condemn to death the sick and threaten the young people.
Beats Per Minute (BPM) by french director Robin Campillo (Les Revenants, Eastern Boys) with Adèle Haenel, Nahuel Perez Biscayart and Arnaud Valois, depicts the daily struggle of Act Up Paris activists against the disease, and especially against silence and carelessness, synonymous of death for the sick and young people discovering sexuality. From the Weekly Meetings (WM) – with their passionate but very democratic debates – to “bloody” actions, with the scarlet of false blood tries to awaken the consciences of public authorities and laboratories, the director takes us into a realistic and moving epic.
Ravages among young people
Under the presidency of Mitterrand, AIDS has spread widely and the epidemic has wreaked havoc among young people, without the society being really affected, as the disease mainly occurred among homosexuals and drug addicts. In the early 90s, Beats Per Minute jubilantly follows the life of Act Up-Paris members on their shock actions to mobilize a lethargic public opinion at a time when social media did not exist. We find Adèle Haenel, who was last year in Cannes a doctor in The Unknown Girl by the Dardenne Brothers. Her character as a fiery and strong militant is tailor-made for this habituée of auteur cinema.
To make public authorities aware of the scale of the AIDS epidemic and the urgent need for treatment, the activists multiply their nonviolent but strong interventions: interruption of a colloque of health representatives, invasion of the premises of the Melton-Pharm laboratory to search for the results of his research, with a generous spread of false blood, a troupe of pom-pom gays to enliven the Gay Pride with provocative slogans or preventive actions in high schools, advocating protected intercourses with a condom, the ultimate weapon against the retrovirus. The goal is to seek confrontation to show one’s sick body.
The shadow of death
Although some activists are not HIV-positive, most are and many are sick. Knowing they are on borrowed time, they still throw their final strength into Act Up’s activism, like Sean (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) who is impatient at the reluctance of the laboratories; Nathan (Arnaud Valois), his lover, will accompany him to the end.
The scenes are turned with sobriety, everything is on the surface, but this surface is so clear, that the viewer sees underneath a whole living, intimate and bubbling universe, despite the shadow of death.
Powerfully mixing anger and tenderness, Beats Per Minute is undeniably a success, the first shock of the Official Selection. To be included in the Palmarès.
Robin Campillo joined Act Up in April 1992. “From the first meeting I attended,” he said, “I was struck by the group’s exaltant effervescence, given that we were in the toughest years of the epidemic. People spoke freely! ”
The Red Carpet of Beats Per Minute in pictures
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