The film actually shows us the dramatic few years of ACT UP Paris, a direct action AIDS advocacy group. We are introduced to various participants, how the meetings are held, protests planned, actions taken, debates ensured but at the same time we see the diversity of the group and the people affected by AIDS. Thibaut is the head of the group who i always trying to keep a balance and lead the discussions with government officials and pharmaceutical companies. A teenager boy and his mother are another passionate factors in the group. Over the course of the film and after almost more than an hour, we realize that film focuses on two main characters: Sean and Nathan. Sean is HIV+ and slowly developing AIDS. He has been in the group for a while and very actively is fighting against the government and the pharmaceutical companies. Nathan is new to the group but very son realizes the social and political landscape of the whole thing. Nathan eventually falls in love with Sean for his spirit and wants to be with him and take care of him. This happens sooner than either of them imagined since Sean’s health goes form bad to worse and eventually the worse happens.
From a story perspective, it may feel by reading above that there is not much to it but believe me, there is a whole lot of stuff going on in the film. A large part of the film focusses on ACT UP Paris and their meetings and discussions. Among their many goals, they seek to combat the French government’s silent indifference toward gays and lesbians, drug users and others affected by HIV and AIDS, and to call out the dishonesty of pharmaceutical firms withholding potentially life-saving new treatments from those who could most stand to benefit. Its like watching a real meeting happening where the debates are confrontational and members are outspoken. Balloons full of fake blood are hurled at government officials and pharmaceutical executives. Meetings and conferences are disrupted. Demonstrators lie down in the street like corpses. Friendships form, dancing in clubs happen to de-stress and of course sex. But overall, I can’t even fathom the efforts that our previous generation has taken to get us to a point of where we are today. And then when we focus on the main protagonists, Sean has this charismatic eloquence about him and fierce logic that instantly attracts the hunky yet quiet and shy Nathan towards him. Their love story is so real, honest, sometimes funny and very very heart-breaking to watch. The tender love-making moments, how delicately they understand their HIV status makes for a wonderful watch. It is hard to separate personal and political differences. The scenes between the 2 men, from two almost healthy individuals to where Sean’s health deteriorates while Nathan helplessly just taking care chokes you. The worse thing is that these guys and many others like these are only in their 20s. All the hospital scenes, the talks between the two guys are splendid. The performances are top notch and I have to give full marks to all the actors, screenplay and the director to make such an awesome awe-inspiring film. While the running time may seem long it is understandable when seen in context with the emotionally powerful last quarter of the film.
The film shows how this disease claimed so many young lives within a society that for the most part did not care about their plight and stigmatised them because they were gay, had AIDS, and/or did not like their sexual practices. There are many many many scenes in the film that will stay with you and will haunt you and make you think. I would really encourage to have some patience and watch this film. Trust me, you will be thankful for a lot of things including the fact that you are alive, hopefully healthy and at a stage where you can appreciate what life has given you. (9/10)