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‘120 BPM (Beats per Minute)’ review: ‘An emotional sucker-punch’

Robin Campillo's award-winning drama is that rare AIDS film which doesn't shame or shy away from sex.

By Will Stroude

We’ve seen a lot of worthy, heartfelt dramas about the AIDS crisis, but never one as joyfully, defiantly and sensually queer as this emotional sucker-punch from French filmmaker Robin Campillo — finally out in the UK nearly a year after setting Cannes alight.

Vibrantly tracing the tangle of personal and political relations among the impassioned members of Aids activist collective ACT UP Paris, it balances a candid, rousing depiction of progressive LGBT+ action with a more intimate, aching love story between the group’s most outspoken member (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) and a less-confident newcomer (Arnaud Valois).

Inspired by Campillo’s own experience and set to a pulsating EDM soundtrack, it’s that rare AIDS drama that doesn’t shame or shy away from sex: it’s a celebration of minds and bodies.

Rating: 5/5

120 BPM (Beats per Minute) is in cinemas now.

Read more about 120 BPM (Beats per Minute) and the incredible true events that inspired the film in Attitude’s May Issue. Buy in print, subscribe or download now.

Arnaud Valois (l) and Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (r), shot by Markus Bidaux for Attitude’s May Issue.

Words: Guy Lodge