23 March 2018 | robfwalter
Flawed, but worth it
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.