120 BPM at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor
Image courtesy of HOME

120 BPM at HOME Manchester, Manchester 27 March — 19 April 2018 Tickets from £5.5

Director Robin Campillo follows up his 2013 Eastern Boys with the rangey yet achingly intimate 120 BPM. The film charts the activities and group dynamics of Parisien ACT UP activists in the early nineties. Taking home the Grand Prix at Cannes last year, Campillo draws on his experiences as a member of the AIDS organisation to craft a film that bounces between moments of direct action, raucous planning meetings, raves and hospital beds with a tangible sense of life and fury.

We’re introduced to the world of ACT UP through Nathan (Arnaud Valois) a young HIV-negative gay man who attends his first meeting at the start of the film and in doing so, provides an entryway into the complex machinations of the activist group. It’s through Nathan that Campillo carefully orients the viewer in this universe, as he is explained the strict codes of conduct that govern ACT UP, learns the intricate politics of the AIDS crisis circa 90s Paris, and is introduced to the personalities involved.

120 BPM
120 BPM

For a time, 120 BPM is diligent and effective as a rhythmic procedural that follows its large ensemble as they do the work of activists: bursting into ineffective or negligent research clinics (fake-blood bags in hand), meeting stakeholders, carrying out demonstrations or passionately debating the nuances of strategy. We’re presented with a broad roster of characters; amongst a score of others, Nathan meets leaders Thibault (Antoine Reinartz) and Sophie (Adèle Haenel) and Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart), a HIV-positive man in his early twenties who becomes his lover.

The group’s interactions and sense of solidarity are all distinctly attuned to living with, or in proximity to HIV and AIDS. There are arguments and disagreements over policy and personal matters, but the film shows how the activists come together for the heart-wrenchingly practical procedures that they deploy in the face of tragedy. Campillo also studs his film with quiet, tenderly staged love scenes and moments of jubilant abandon that become ever more devastating as 120 BPM narrows its focus to the relationship between Nathan and Sean in its final third.

Indeed, 120 BPM’s standout image, comes in a hazy scene in which the ACT UP group dance through the early hours. The camera racks focus to settle on particles of dust above the group’s heads, where, backlit by the club lighting, they slowly morph into HIV-infected blood cells. Scored by the throbbing beat of the club, the shot is a frighteningly potent and cinematic rendering of the inescapable shadow of the hovering disease and the life that persists in its presence.

120 BPM at HOME Manchester, Manchester 27 March — 19 April 2018 Tickets from £5.5

What's on at HOME Manchester

Where to go near 120 BPM at HOME

Manchester
Restaurant
Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Manchester
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Homeground
Manchester
Event venue
Homeground

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Manchester
Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar
at IABF

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Manchester
Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.