VIFF 2017: French AIDS activist drama BPM (Beats Per Minute) shows how to tell LGBT history

(France)

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      When it comes to LGBT period pieces, this is how you do it.

      This frank inside look at the rabble-rousing Parisian chapter of the AIDS activist group ACT UP in the early ’90s has it all: there’s high-stakes drama, fiery infighting, candid sexuality, and unguarded emotion among the educational elements. In a solid, authentic cast, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart stands out as firecracker Sean, who ranges from verbal dexterity to desolate vulnerability. He shares a natural chemistry with Arnaud Valois, who plays the initially diffident Nathan. Their emotional and physical intimacy, despite their opposite HIV statuses, form an essential counterpoint to the group’s fierce political campaigns, which include splattering a pharmaceutical company’s offices with fake blood and hijacking high-school classes with explicit safe-sex speeches. Engaging as it is, it’s one of those films that's also good for you: while the group rallied against indifference toward the fight for their lives, the film’s potency will help disrupt apathy toward the current state of HIV.

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