120 BPM has been eliciting praise ever since it debuted at Cannes last year, including winning the Grand Prix and Queer Palm at the festival. It’s gone on to win multiple other awards, including Best Film at the Cesar Awards (France’s equivalent of the Oscars). It was also France’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, although sadly it missed out on a nomination.
Written and directed by Robin Campillo (who also made the very good Eastern Boys), 120 BPM is a fictionalised take on the true story of the AIDS activist organisation, ACT UP Paris. Campillo and co-screenwriter Philippe Mangeot were involved with ACT UP themselves, helping to give the movie an authenticity and power it may otherwise have lacked. Thankfully though, despite being close to the story Campillo is objective enough to be able to acknowledge the flaws and problems within the organisation, while also having a clear-eyed view of why these things happened. This allows it to be a powerful and empathetic testament to both ACT UP and those who were/are affected by AIDS, without becoming hagiography. [Read more…]