‘120 beats per minute‘, by Robin Campillo, is a political work, which also contains a painful and delicate love story.
Paris, early nineties, they danced to the rhythm of Jimmy Somerville while François Mitterrand presided over the Republic. The AIDS epidemic was already a terrible reality that was ravaging not only the gay community, but little by little it was being introduced in all spheres of society. But the Government continued to turn its back on it, the pharmaceutical companies were not cooperative in the face of the advances that were taking place in the scientific field and there were still many prejudices towards the sick who were marked and stigmatized in a society that needed to urgently take conscience. The AIDS was not just for gays, prostitutes and immigrants, as I wanted to suggest the most reactionary sector of the population. It had become a public health issue. And you had to take sides urgently. Watch complete online movie streaming wihtout any registration.
This is how the militant association Act Up emerged in the late 1980s . Its mission was to fight from different fronts to call attention to the dangers of the disease, among them, that the State create preventive measures against AIDS, as well as denouncing marginalization to which was subjected to the homosexual collective, that of prostitutes or immigrants by society and false bourgeois morality.
They were always clear that the only possible way to be heard was the most indomitable activism and provocation. It was not time to sit alone to debate, you had to go out and take action that had an impact not only media, but also social. That is why its field of action ranged from pressure to pharmaceutical companies to the attempt to introduce a sex education plan into schools . Passing, of course, by the essential street demonstrations to claim a series of rights that until then were silenced.
At that time a young Robin Campillo joined Act Up-Paris. He could not remain indifferent about what was happening around him. I needed information, to really know what was happening, to take sides and join the cause. It was a very scary moment. As he himself has stated, the feeling in the environment was that everyone was going to die, that everyone would become infected, that no one would escape the pandemic. That’s why the union was so important.
That spirit at the same time of guerrilla and community, of struggle and camaraderie is present at 120 beats per minute. The film in which the director pours all his youthful experiences not only to narrate from a past point of view how important were the beginnings of the fight against AIDS but to certify that this battle has not yet ended and that all the demands of yesteryear, they are still necessary in the present.
120 beats per minute is a political movie. It also contains a painful and very delicate love story. And precisely the film moves around these two spheres, between the public and the private. On the one hand, we find the debates where the militants of the association meet. In them, each of the actions that they will put into practice is discussed as an assembly. Some members are impetuous, more revolutionary, others prefer dialogue. But in each of the sessions that Robin Campillo films, the impetuous delivery of all the participants united by a common cause is perceived.
It may be that many viewers are reminded of the way Robin Campillo has filmed these moments, very close to the documentary style practiced by Laurent Cantet in another work of social and human content as important as La clase (2008), winner of the Palma de Gold of Cannes. It is not casual. Robin Campillo was the scriptwriter of that movie. Of that and of all the works of Cantet from which it continues being its masterpiece the employment of the time (2001).
Perhaps for that reason he approaches the group scenes with that precision, as if his camera was hidden and limited to transparently recording what happens, while capturing every little detail of that human group that moves organically before our eyes.
But in addition to showing all those characters in their committed facet, we also follow in the footsteps of a young man, Sean, who has been HIV-positive for more than ten years after being infected by his math teacher in his first sexual relationship. Sean is our vehicle in the narrative. And through him, from the eyes of that fantastic actor that is the Argentinean Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, we get into the anger, the frustration and pain that the disease implies, but it also infects us with his spirit, with his energy, with his desire to eat his life every second. His strength and also his fragility permeate everything. And it is exciting the way so extremely modest, away from all exhibitionist zeal, with which Campillo introduces us into his privacy, in his most private plot, not only when we see him make love and he gives himself to his lover, but when he opens us his heart and we accede to his fears, to his most recondite areas, to his experiences and to his past.
There is a constant drive between life and death throughout the entire film. The characters are aware that each moment can be the last and should take full advantage of it. That’s why they dance in the clubs, in the ride of the Pride. They laugh, they kiss. Time is precious and precious. Sometimes in the movie that time seems to move very slowly. On other occasions, it practically stops. But in the end, everything develops too fast.
There have been many films that have revolved around AIDS. Although it had been a while since one approached it in such a didactic and necessary way. Precisely during the moment in which the action takes place, beginning of the nineties, the stories that revolved around the disease began to proliferate. Many of them were inscribed within the queer cinema and continue to be iconic, as in the case of Poison by Todd Haynes. And within the French cinema itself it is still difficult to overcome the stark and disturbing levels of Wild Nights,who directed and starred Cyrill Collard about his own memories before passing away. In them he spoke of his illness, but also of his irresponsibility when transmitting to his lovers the virus for not using protection knowing that he was a carrier.
It was the year 1993. The same year in which Carla Simón’s latest movies film takes place that has become the revelation of the season in our cinema. It is another work of an experiential nature. In it the director pours the memories that she has of her childhood, when her mother died of AIDS and she had to adapt to a life in which outside her family she was treated with a certain fear. Both 120 beats per minute and Wild Nights or Summer 1993 are told almost in first person. Maybe it’s the only way to approach an issue that can be addressed through allegory, as Haynes well demonstrated , but that acquires real meaning when it is done through the most intimate life experience, both physical and emotional.