October 22, 2017 | Arts / Entertainment

French AIDS drama getting Oscar buzz

BPMYou might want to add French film BPM to your must watch list.
 
The movie, directed by Robin Campillo, follows several fictional members of the Paris branch of ACT UP in the 1990s. BPM is about advocacy and activism; it is about the fight to get the government to take a serious stance on the AIDS crisis; and it's a love story.
 
The movie is divided into two halves. The first half focuses on the group, as it struggles to refine its voice and get noticed. Much of it takes place in a single room, where the activists are meeting to debate possible plans of action.
 
The second half of the movie focuses in on two of the activists. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) is HIV-negative, and Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) is positive. As their love affair begins, Sean’s condition takes a turn for the worst. 
 
The movie sounds heavy at times, but Campillo reigns in some of the emotional weight with a few lighter moments.
 
In one scene, the group gets comically stuck in a revolving door in the middle of a demonstration, slowing down their dramatic entrance into the pharma company’s office. In another scene, they barge into a high school, defiant. But when one of the members walks into a classroom and announces his purpose, the teacher says, “Ok.” She tells her students to pay attention -- this is very important stuff. It rather takes the steam out of the activists’ message, and the students look amusingly bored.
The film won the Jury Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival last May. It will also represent France in the foreign-language-film race for this year’s Oscars.
 

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