2017 France, Director Robin Campillo, certificate 15
Nathan is a young man who joins an AIDS activist group in 1990s Paris. As he attends the weekly meetings, he learns that some members prefer a more radical approach to their protests.
Centring on the activist group Act Up-Paris, it serves as a snapshot of those who resisted in the early days of the disease’s global pandemic. The film lives its “politics in the first person”, showing how Act Up lobbied for legislation, research and treatment for those with HIV/Aids, while also tracking a tender romance between two of its members when militant HIV-“poz” livewire Sean and shy, handsome new member Nathan are drawn into each other’s orbits.
Before staging a protest at research lab Melton Pharm, where they plan to pelt its staff with fake blood, seasoned members of the group tell newbies to bring water, medication and ID in case they get held in custody – practical details that create the sense of protest as an action with risk attached.
“Compared with previous films about the Aids crisis which had a tendency towards tasteful seriousness thereby framing the character’s central journeys as a stoic and sexless death march, what feels revolutionary about this film and its characters is the way they resist that urge, managing to find moments of galvanising fury and ecstatic joy while in the grip of debilitating disease.”