Vibrantly, Robin Campillo tells the story of the individuals behind ACT UP- Paris- an early 1990’s HIV/AIDS rights activism group.
Much of the film is set in a lecture hall. It is like watching a great debate, authentic and intelligent. This is elevated and emotional discourse.
The story is about the group, the collective, but Nahuel Pérez Biscayart as Sean is certainly the most dominant thread. Adele Haenel from Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) plays Sophie as part of the group as well.
Biscayart gets a fantastic scene on a train early in the film. “I live life more intensely” as he pauses and Campillo catches the reflection on the glass.
There is a nice formal signifier repeated at several points in the film: the members of the group dance at a club. It happens at the 25-minute mark (with the sweat turning to molecules in the air in a nice transition), the 44-minute mark, the 115-minute mark and again at the very end (143-minute film)
A nice slow-motion sequence at the parade showing their enjoyment and camaraderie as a group.
Campillo does use documentary footage of protests.
Strong aerial shots of protestors in the streets, coloring the Seine red in protest.
It is about the small intimate moments of the struggle—the details in the 143-minute, longer, running time payoff. There are several minutes dedicated to the mourning of a loss, not just the poignant moments. but the details of making coffee for each other- a silent ritual, showing love for each other.
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