A rib­bon runs through it

Two films take dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to the Aids epi­demic

Esquire (UK) - - CULTURE -

In the new French drama di­rected by Robin Campillo, 120 Beats Per Minute, seen above right, two young men fall in love, and the egg timer is turned. Sean (Nahuel Pérez Bis­ca­yart) has HIV, and Nathan (Ar­naud Valois) does not, and as this is the Nineties, when treat­ment for HIV/Aids was still neg­li­gi­ble, they know that their re­la­tion­ship can be but a brief one. The two men meet at a gather­ing of the Paris branch of Act Up, a di­rect ac­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion that was set up in the Eight­ies to force aware­ness of the HIV/Aids epi­demic both among the drugs com­pa­nies and govern­ments and also the groups most at risk. The film fol­lows Sean and Nathan’s de­vel­op­ing love af­fair, but also the ac­tions of the group, which grow in­creas­ingly des­per­ate and strained as their col­lec­tive time starts to run out. It’s a slow, sen­sual film that shows two peo­ple whose roles in life come to be flattened to sin­gle di­men­sions — pa­tient, carer — by the ter­ri­ble disease.

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fash­ion and Disco, seen above left, is a new doc­u­men­tary by James Crump, but it’s not os­ten­si­bly about Aids. It is a por­trait of a man and also of an era. Lopez was a Puerto Ri­can-Amer­i­can fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor whose dy­namic, sexy draw­ings brought new verve to Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, while his dy­namic, sexy per­son­al­ity sent the men and ladies — in­clud­ing Karl Lagerfeld, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones — crazy with de­sire and envy. (“I had a wild crush on Antonio,” ad­mits ac­tress Jes­sica Lange. “Didn’t ev­ery­one?”) Lopez was by all ac­counts the toast of New York in the late Six­ties and Paris in the early Seven­ties, and the fash­ion elite fall over them­selves to sing his praises in the movie, from Vogue’s Grace Cod­ding­ton to the late The New York Times photographer Bill Cun­ning­ham. But all this ha­giog­ra­phy points to­wards a tragic end­ing: even though it comes with only five min­utes to go, Aids is in the shad­ows all along. —

120 Beats Per Minute, and Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fash­ion and Disco are both out in cine­mas on 6 April

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