Indie Gems: BPM (Beats Per Minute)

I want you to live.

Members of the French advocacy group ACT UP Paris are struggling with getting their leaders to acknowledge the AIDS crisis in 1990. Our main view point is a young HIV positive man, Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who finds a new relationship with Nathan (Arnaud Valois) a new recruit.

This is yet another movie that gets the AIDS crisis better than Philadelphia does. I know it's a weird way to start a review but I keep thinking back to my February Blind Spot and I still can't believe how the Academy embraced something that played it so safe. The extraordinary thing about BPM is that a number of the scenes take place in a classroom where the group meets. They just debate and talk out their issues, and it's fascinating. A film that relies so heavily on scenes like that already has an up hill battle with keeping everyone's attention and this film tackles it perfectly. I could've sat it on these meetings all day. 

Biscayart and Valois have excellent chemistry together, and Adèle Haenel who was in another French film I love, Water Lilies also has a big role. The cinematography in this is gorgeous as well. Not only is there a stunning shot of the Parisian skyline (you'll know it when you see it) but even the way they shot their protests and marches was beautiful. They made it feel like you were really there with them.

If there's one place BPM struggles, it's towards the end. Obviously, the film is going to get heavy but I just didn't think the last 20 minutes or so was as engaging as the rest of the film. There was a stark contrast between the two parts. 

I wish this would've been on the Best Foreign Film ballot at the Oscars this year. It certainly deserved to be.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "You gave it up? For five years?" - Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) 

10 comments:

  1. This is a film that I've been wanting to see since I heard about it at Cannes last year. It's a shame it didn't get a bigger release here in the U.S.

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    1. I know, this is something that should've gotten a hefty limited release at least.

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  2. Wow I had absolutely no idea what this was about, but I heard a lot of buzz surrounding it last year. Great review; I'll definitely have to check it out!

    Philadelphia WAS safe.

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    1. Yes it was lol. I Hope you like this when you watch it!

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  3. I'm SO GLAD you loved this! I loved the ending though - I was an absolute mess in the theater. That whole sequence is paced so well.

    I showed this to a friend of mine who worked with the original ACT UP in NYC when it started and he was agog during the group meeting scenes; he said it was like he was back there again.

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    1. That's so cool! I loved those group scenes, they were the highlight for me. I really wish this would've gotten a Foreign Language nom.

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  4. I saw it around during the film festival and thought about watching it but its heavy topic just.. it needs a certain mood and I'm not in that mood often. But it's French and those are the only European movies I seem to like so, some day I'll watch it. :)

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    1. French is such a beautiful language. Even though I don't understand it I Just like listening to it. lol

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  5. I am glad you liked it too. I didn't compare it to Philadelphia, but I wholly agree that 120 Beats covers the topic much better. I also found the ending a bit problematic. I kind of expected something more dramatic in the second half, if that makes sense? It was just very sombre, and that's all. I guess they wanted it all as realistic as possible.

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    1. I'm not sure what they could've done to the ending to make me enjoy it a bit more. It's hard to explain, I guess the first half was just too good?

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