BPM (Beats Per Minute) Screen 83 of 24 reviews

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

2017

BPM (Beats Per Minute) Poster
  • Campillo, a cowriter on Laurent Cantet’s social realist films The Class and Time Out, devotes significant screen time to philosophical debate but also appeals to the senses with graphic sex and a throbbing techno score by Arnaud Rebotini.

  • This movie demonstrates the humanity of these activists, people whose backs were against a wall. It does so with humor, compassion, affinity, and no condescension. Even if you consider yourself reasonably well-versed in the history, “BPM” is a kind of wake-up call, a cinematic alarm against complacency.

  • Although BPM is technically fiction, it has the rawness and immediacy of an eyewitness account, qualities often lacking in dramatized tales of LGBTQ history (Roland Emmerich’s ghastly Stonewall, from 2015, quickly comes to mind)... Campillo recollects memories from a quarter century ago—but he conjugates the past tense into a form of the present perfect.

  • Cinema has so often been relegated to being a vehicle for the transmission of stories that moments like these, which track on pure sensation, are often excised. In Campillo we have a filmmaker easily able to bend narrative to his will, to make the act of telling stories with moving pictures fresh again, and who is also fascinated with the physical properties of his medium. It’s a potent mix.

  • The film glides between their intimate romance, the meetings of the organisation, and the sex lives of all the characters with a daring and exhilarating lack of concern for genre boundaries — politics, love, and pleasure all casually meld into one.

  • The cinematic focus is on the rhythm and emotional flow rather than a timeline of victories and setbacks, and Campillo, who also co-wrote the screenplay, develops a moving sense of embodiment. He sidesteps the conventional storytelling of AIDS dramas in the film’s final third, and creates an elegant visual motif of particles suspended in the air (ethereal under a club’s spotlights, yet suggestive of much else without pressing the point).

  • This is at once vivid historical recreation, an expert analysis of the issues involved in the campaign and, finally, a moving love story that doesn’t cheat us in its representation of death and grief.

  • The fact that BPM finds the time to deliver no fewer than three very good sex scenes tells you what sort of film it is: measured, generous, radical and queer. These qualities extend to everything the film undertakes to do... This dialectical representation of queer lives, meshing the personal with the political to ultimately devastating effect, sees BPM shift from being a painstaking history of a movement to an urgent call to arms.

  • Some may quibble that the movie goes on about 10 minutes longer than it has to, squandering a perfectly haunting final shot along the way. (You’ll know it when you see it.) But Campillo, a filmmaker riveted by strategic minutiae, makes you understand the logic behind his methods. Our tears, he seems to be saying, shouldn’t blind us to the necessity of fighting and resisting with every last breath.

  • What gives it a compelling heft is its thoroughness. It is a dramatised slice of social history which runs on procedural details. One of its chief pleasures is the experience of being a fly-on-the-wall while covert activist operations are plotted and executed. Lesser films reduce such schemes to cliché and montage. You leave _this_ film knowing how to make a bathful of fake blood, and how best to vandalise the offices of negligent pharmaceutical companies.

  • The first time I saw BPM, at one of the New York Film Festival’s large public screenings, I was overwhelmed by this thread of the movie, and by Sean in particular... The second time I saw it, at a regular critics’ screening, I was a little less taken with it as a movie but nonetheless impressed with it as a document. BPM resists becoming a tragedy, even as it documents one. You could say it resists becoming the resistance, too, but there’ll always be a chance to make that movie.

  • The relationship, and Sean's death, may be "something we've seen before" in the movies. But I would argue that this relationship means something unique in context, coming as it does after the meticulous examination of the organization, function, and direct actions of ACT-UP Paris. It is literally a love that has been won through struggle, something these men fought for to the very last.

  • Compositionally, many of the film’s exterior scenes, from marches to shock demonstrations, are similarly constricted, which has the unintended effect of diminishing the scope of what the characters resist: the seeming totality of a city turning its back on the undesirable. And, indeed, it’s precisely the jolt of recognition, specificity, and expansiveness that defines a powerful sequence that transitions from scenes of protest and subsequent dancing.

  • Quiet, intimately composed love scenes soon run up against blaring club sequences that see the characters letting themselves go in moments of nocturnal abandon. But these interludes punctuate the drama more than define it, and as BPM pushes towards the close of its 140 minutes, it begins to sacrifice a bit of the momentum that Campillo so expertly harnessed in Eastern Boys.

  • For the most part, BPM doesn’t worry much about undertaking formal innovation, and instead focuses squarely on helping audiences honor (or perhaps discover) the years of die-ins, guerrilla pamphleting, and peer-led immunology seminars. This is pedagogical cinema made warm and rousing—lively, and against heavy odds.

  • It’s familiar terrain but brought to life with firsthand intimacy and a welcome attentiveness to the everyday labor of activism.

  • Campillo isn’t just showing off; his movie has a lived-through sensibility that’s so often missing from historical portraiture (even if there is a suspiciously minimized acknowledgement here of trans and non-white individuals who no doubt participated in the movement), and it lends its final act a crushing intimacy. _These_ are the stakes of state and corporate negligence, _this_ is the catharsis of fighting against it, and _this_ is the trauma of losing again.

  • While Campillo is intent on showing ACT UP's activities as a group, away from their protests, their personal lives are only really defined by their relationships to one another... Campillo's writing skills are perhaps best served by his own directorial vision: 120 Beats Per Minute offers not only compelling social-realist ideas on its surface, but finds visually evocative ways to express them.

  • Although Robin Campillo’s “Beats Per Minute” centers on Act Up activists struggling against government apathy and corporate intransigence in the early 1990s, the movie’s intricate negotiation of gender issues, the complexities of identity and the necessity of resistance make up for the story’s frustrating bagginess.

  • Campillo depicts with intimate tenderness their navigation of their relationship through the realities of the plague (Sean is HIV-positive, Nathan is negative) and the internal politics of ACT UP. At the same time, Campillo never lets us forget we’re watching the story of a collective, as very different people come together and argue vociferously, all in an effort to act as a unit — imperfect, scrappy, vital.

  • Though the film is way too long, the final, deeply moving sequences are created by performances of such subtlety and conviction that the occasional spurt of didactic overkill is quickly forgiven. Maybe there ought to be an ensemble acting prize for it?

  • Enriched by Campillo's own experiences with AIDS activism in the 1990s, the film—which runs close to two-and-a-half hours, one of the longer titles in competition—has a canvas both intimate and expansive, brimming with both specificity and bracing sincerity. It's the rare film that documents both a personal story and a larger movement with verve and grace, creating a compelling, often moving experience.

  • Scenes of the group’s strategic debates strain for an analytical vitality and a historical resonance that the film leaves mainly unexplored; the vigorous depictions of ACT UP’s heroic confrontations with drug companies, insurance companies, and the French government are played more for spectacle than for substance... The dramatic focus of the film, on Sean’s physical deterioration, is both agonizing and methodical.

  • With a repetitive, programmatic structure focusing on process in terms of meetings, political actions, and fucking, Robin Campillo’s 120 battements par minute is an overlong take on the workings of Act Up in Paris in the early ’90s that begs for the emoji treatment, but deserved a prize for its honest emotion as expressed through wildly different acting techniques, especially the baroque stylings of Argentine actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart.

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