Going to the cinema in France usually doesn’t involve feeling great intensity or emotion outside of boredom, but this all changed when this writer was recently found in the dark of the Beaugrenelle cinema in the 15th, trying to get into fetal position after viewing Robin Campillo’s film “120 Battements Par Minute”. It is one of the best and most scorching films to be seen in years, and what could be described as a great big claque. Taking places in the late 80s in France and revolving around the ACT UP group of AIDS activists, 120 BPM is an incredibly acted film featuring an ensemble cast that treats life and death as the precious same stuff it is, always lurking around the corner.

A stunning reminder of the past and its flippant attitudes towards the health of individuals (n’importe quoi, they’ll treat cigarette smokers but not those with HIV as…well, theological bias), this film has been on everyone’s to see list and took home the big prize, the Grand Prix. Sobering, painful, and hopeful all at the same time, you cannot miss watching this film in order to appreciate all that’s gone into the making of it and all that has gone into the fight for the right to be alive.

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