2017 | 143 minutes | Rated NR
Set in 1990s Paris and focused on a French activist group modeled on ACT UP (Acte! Oope!), BPM is beautifully shot, with impressionistic and associative editing. Surreal scenes of demonstrations that incorporate fake blood and scattered pills dissolve into dialogue-less, strobing club scenes—which then bleed into shapes that slide into focus as infected immune cells, only to become flowers in the next shot. In the world of BPM, there are no good victims or virtuous doctors, no recuperation arcs or desexualized queer characters. Instead, we see complex scenes of intimacy, the whole messy group of activists arguing over whether to employ an incremental, diplomatic approach, or to just throw fake blood on political leaders who don’t take AIDS seriously. It’s not a spoiler to say that young people die of AIDS in BPM, and when they do, they aren’t romanticized or made into martyrs. Instead, their deaths are treated as the senseless, unjust fates they are.
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