BPM (Beats per Minute) ★★★½


There seems to be a general consensus brewing that BPM falters in its final act, when Campillo narrows the lens and focuses on its designated couple, longtime activist Sean (Nahule Perez Biscayart) and relative newbie Nathan (Arnaud Valois). It's true that the film is setting up a fairly clear-cut division between theory and practice, or perhaps more accurately between social and personal activism. Part of the purpose of asking us to watch Sean die is to remind us that AIDS robbed the world of seemingly inextinguishable spirits, mere humans who were no match for the disease.

Campillo is also opting to follow through on the film's initial structural conceit, making Nathan our audience surrogate throughout BPM. Instead of remaining committed only as an activist, Nathan's love for Sean becomes our way to enter into intimacy, and intimate loss. As we see, Nathan's final moments with Sean are charged with the conviction that comes with a combination of passionate love and an activist's mercy.

The relationship, and Sean's death, may be "something we've seen before" in the movies. But I would argue that this relationship means something unique in context, coming as it does after the meticulous examination of the organization, function, and direct actions of ACT-UP Paris. It is literally a love that has been won through struggle, something these men fought for to the very last.