Robin Campillo; 2017; France; 140 min. in French with English subtitles
A blaring air horn signals an immediate sense of urgency at the start of writer-director Robin Campillo’s epic, heart-wrenching love story of courageous, resilient people who fought for our very existence.
Based on his life as an ACT UP activist in the early ’90s, Campillo draws on his personal relationships and experiences fighting pharmaceutical companies for the release of new life-saving protease inhibitor drugs against the backdrop of fear and indifference from thegeneral public and government.
The camera whirls from intense and shocking scenes of demonstrations to moments of pure dance-floor elation and unabashed gay sex, fading nicely to quieter moments focusing on two activists at the heart of the film: alluring Nathan and young, brash Sean (Argentine actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart in a fearless, star-making performance), who quickly fall for each other. Full of authentic dialogue and details—as witnessed in the meetings where they finger-snap instead of clap to save precious moments— BPM pulsates with every frame.
Its exquisitely crafted finale left journalists in stunned silence at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix, Queer Palm, and Film Critics’ Awards.
CONTENT WARNING: IMPLIED VIOLENCE, NUDITY, EXPLICIT SEXUAL SITUATIONS