Love can spring up in the most unlikely of places. Nathan (Arnaud Valois) probably didn’t have romance on the brain when he started attending Act Up-Paris meetings in the early 1990s, but he found Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) all the same. Love is all around.
But romance isn’t without its share of hurdles: Sean is living with an HIV-positive diagnosis and a low T cell count. Time is running short, but Sean plans to breathe every breath and live every heartbeat.
BPM (Beats Per Minute) from writer/director Robin Campillo partly tells Sean and Nathan’s tender love story and partly tells the docudrama story of Act Up-Paris, a non-partisan group comprised of gay, straight, and bi individuals who are sick and tired of dying in the shadows.
Campillo, working with co-writer Philippe Mangeot, takes his time setting up the world of Act Up-Paris and laying out the political battles facing these activists before he narrows his focus to Sean and Nathan. Little is wasted in either section, and despite a lengthy running time of 140 minutes, BPM moves with energetic and clear eyes. Maybe because so much of BPM is concerned with the loss of innocent lives and maybe because Sean, like most characters in BPM, is raging against the dying of the light even though he knows, deep down, nothing is forever. “There are times when I see the world differently,” Sean tells Nathan in a moment of melancholic reflection. “Morning mainly.”
BPM (Beats Per Minute) is currently in limited release.