By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –
In the early 1990’s in Paris ACT UP is an advocacy group for People with Aids and they demand action by the government and pharmaceutical companies to get rid of AZT and DDI and give new and better alternatives to the public, as well as put out safe sex tips to help prevent the contraction and spread of HIV/AIDS. Nathan is a newcomer to the group and meets Sean, an AIDS positive activist who spends all of his time devoted to ACT UP. They form a beautiful relationship and work together to provide politician activism and safe sex awareness. It’s a brutally honest film that will shake you to your core.
This is a tremendously well-acted film, from the entire cast. Every character feels like a real person. The entire film has such a real feel to it and a big reason is because of the actors. Especially the leads Nathan played by Arnaud Valois and Sean played by Nahuel Perez Biscayart. Arnaud is a wonderful vessel into this world to teach the audience about ACT UP and the AIDS Epidemic in the 80s & 90s. He is naive and curious and because of this we get brilliant character growth and by the end of the film we feel so bad for Nathan because we feel like we know him. Nahuel is remarkable as Sean. Over the years span of the film we grow to learn and love Sean (Spoilers!) and then at the end of the film we know Sean will probably die but it still rips your heart out and leaves you mouth agape as you sit there are try to deal with the swell of emotions while the credits roll (Spoilers Over).
The entire film feels very real. If it weren’t for the amazing production values this could easily pass as a documentary. Every person in ACT UP feels like a person you work with, went to school with, or a family member. It’s a testament to a brilliant script, great directing, and topped off with stellar acting. The realness of this film it what makes this so impactful. This film will go somewhere deep inside of you and stay and you’ll want to make sure everyone you know sees this film.
(Spoilers!) When Sean dies everyone in ACT UP is notified and they come to Nathan’s apartment to pay their respects and the entire sequence has no music. It’s completely silence except for minor talking. It feels so true to life and the audience becomes so close to Sean that you feel like you’re in that apartment and having an out of body experience like you would if a family member had died in real life (Spoilers Over).
On the note of music, the score is magical. I’ve never heard of an original score that is actual French House/Garage and it completely works. The only music that could match the club scenes and the scene at Pride when Nathan is given E is French house. Especially when this film takes place when French House was just taking off and was extremely popular. It’s as if someone made a film taking place in the 1970’s and scored it with all original disco music. It gives an even more authentic feel to BPM and will make you tap your toes throughout the film.
Beats per Minute (original title: 120 Battements Par Minute) is a well-written, acted, directed, deeply emotional, and real film. It’s a shame that it was left off of the Oscars short list, because this film should be seen by everyone. It might be hard to stomach twice but everyone should at least watch it once.
BPM (2017) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: every time your toes are tapping from the music.
Finish a Beer: for every person that dies.
Take a Drink: for every balloon of fake blood thrown.
Do a Shot: for every Activist moment by ACT UP.