Reviewed | ‘BPM (Beats per Minute)’
Historical Slice of Life in the AIDS Struggle
In Robin Campillo’s unique film about an AIDS activist group in France during the ’90s, winner of the Grand Prix prize at Cannes, the title tells the story on more than one level: BPM (Beats per Minute) relates to the vulnerable heartbeats of the AIDS-afflicted activists who fight against injustices — in government organizations, a pharmaceutical company, a condom-unfriendly high school —and for their lives, as well as the beats-per-minute equation of their escapist nights in the nightclub. In the long first stage of the film, the frenetic chatter, noise and kinetic energy — told in naturalistic, verite-style filmmaking — yields to quieter, more poignant passages, dealing with a developing relationship between two “poz” men in the group, and the life-robbing ravages of disease. If overly longish and sometimes rambling, BPM conveys a historical slice of life in the AIDS struggle with a strong, supple cinematic voice.