Two moments of Jonas's life intertwine, each reflecting the other: in 1995, when he was a secretive teenager, and 18 years later, as an attractive and impulsive thirty-something looking for balance in his life.
Tommy Lee Baïk
Leo is 22 and sells his body on the street for a bit of cash. The men come and go, and he stays right here - longing for love. He doesn't know what the future will bring. He hits the road. His heart is pounding.
Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.
Early 1990s. With AIDS having already claimed countless lives for nearly ten years, Act up-Paris activists multiply actions to fight general indifference. Nathan, a newcomer to the group, has his world shaken up by Sean, a radical militant, who throws his last bits of strength into the struggle.
After the incursion in the lab, the group gathered in the subway; in the background we can see a Score games ad. Score games first shop was opened in 1992 in Paris, although the action is supposed to be set in 1989. See more »
This movie is not perfect, but its flaws are outshone by its facets. The most sparkling among those is Arnaud Valois, who is smoking hot as Nathan, one of the ACT UP campaigners who this film follows. Good acting, a warm heart and a realism that is hard to find in big idea movies are also highlights of this film. Yes, an awful lot of it takes place in meetings in a lecture theatre, but these scenes actually had my heart racing, so true were they to the reality of activist politics - trying to decide if you should speak up or let a point pass, understanding both sides of an argument but knowing that the purpose of a meeting is to make a choice, hating someone's ideology but trying to maintain a working relationship with them. In this way, the movie finds its relevance to today. If politics is to be taken back from careerists and corporations to instead deal with real problems such as climate change and growing income and wealth inequality, it will require everyday people to take their cue from 120 Battements Par Minute and turn up to meetings, argue points of order and collectively decide how to act.
The two main shortcomings of the film are its earnestness and its length. Even just cutting fifteen minutes from it could have made the film easier to take, and there is probably half an hour that could have gone. In some ways it's stuck trying to tell a Hollywood story at a European pace, and as a consequence it does drag at times.
I was prepared for the earnestness, as I had seen the previews, but there are still a few times when it felt more like instruction than entertainment. However, there are also moments of levity and it's worth giving up an extra half hour of your time to see a film that is as profound, important and relevant as this one.
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