HEARTBEATS | MOVIE REVIEW

Xavier Dolan is a god to me, a cinematic prodigy from Montreal in French Canada. A guy who at age twenty five has made six feature films with one on the way. All that I have seen are brilliant. He writes, directs, produces, usually stars, makes the costumes and even edits his own movies, and you know when watching a Dolan film it is all his. And they are all oozing with a French “New” New Wave of stylism with more of a look at the human condition than most films. Everything he makes is art house, but deeper, it is reminiscent of the works of Pedro Almodóvar with Dolan being the French, and greater talented, Gael García Bernal counterpart. His movies explore late teenage, early 20s sexual desire and discovery. He is also branching into Hitchcockian territory with his beautiful movie TOM AT THE FARM and has won more awards than can be imagined.

This film, HEARTBEATS, came out in 2010 and is his second film, he made this at twenty years old! In 2010 it won the Sydney Film Festival. His 2014 film MOMMY I am yet to see but it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is soon releasing in Australia. Not only does he make his own films, he acts in many films and to make it even better, the icing on the cake so to speak, in France, he is the voice of Stan on the dubbed SOUTH PARK TV show. I worship this guy, his talent is impeccable and I also want to marry him, he is everything :). You want some more? His next film is his first big budget “Hollywood” movie and he is writing and directing with a small lead cast of Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates and Kit Harrington – titled THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN F.DONOVAN it is exploring the delicate subject of possible pedophilia in Hollywood after a Hollywood actor’s correspondence with an 11yr old is discovered – it releases in 2016. Gushing done, enjoy my review of his 2010 movie HEARTBEATS.

 

HEARTBEATS MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
HEARTBEATS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

HEARTBEATS aka “Les amours imaginaires” is an unfulfilled, unsatisfied love triangle movie looking at two friends, one a gay male, Francis (Xavier Dolan) and the other a female, Marie (Monia Chokri). These two friends are spoiled brat twenty somethings with way too much time and allowance on their hands. When together they are a force unto their own and a party duo that speak their own language. They are both single and destined for each other for eternity, hell they deserve each other :). They are at a party and spot the beautiful carefree over-confident Nicolas (Niels Schneider) and both state they are not interested in him at all. This basically means the chase has begun for both of them, Nicolas is gorgeous and they want him, as the audience you want him, he is a dream, a living and breathing replica of the Statue of David. He is an item that must be had.

And thus the film follows the desires of these two chasing after Nicolas, first they need to discover if he is gay or not and that would move things one way or the other, besides the subtle question dropping or enquiring about the matter, secretly I do not believe they want to know as the chase is more fun. The chasing becomes an obsession for them both, hell it was for me as well, I was nearly licking the TV :). But Nicolas comes across as either a complete bimbo or a player who gets more out of seeing these two fight over him. That is up to debate, but when things between Francis and Marie reach breaking point Nicolas says “love me or leave me,” I took that more that he was over the game now as it was no longer fun.

 

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HEARTBEATS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | FRANCIS (XAVIER DOLAN) AND MARIE (MONIA CHOKRI) AT A PARTY

 

The lengths these two go to to make Nicolas fall for him is quite hysterical. Nicolas mentions he loves Audrey Hepburn and that she is his favourite actress, from that moment on Marie is always dressed like her, even dropping lines from her movies, he also mentions how much he likes James Dean, Francis gets a Dean haircut the same day. The film has some fun with this during the first act, but then it takes on a more darker tone that is very clever in its exploration of loneliness, desperation, rejection, the importance of friendship and the need for someone to be with. Once Nicolas is the object of their individual desires they ceased being friends and went to rivals, always trying to undo each other in their pursuit, spending ludicrous amounts on gifts. All the while Nicolas just does his thing. And there is the saddest part, we all make more than a situation in our minds when we want to. They both thought Nicolas wanted them and imagined scenarios where it was a romantic relationship starting. Dolan even took the film into some beatuiful fantasy scenes, one very nice one with showering marshmallows and another with a Statue of David comparison piece. These scenes had a slight reminder to me of Pierre et Gilles photography, I just wish Dolan took it further with the fantasy element.

 

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HEARTBEATS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | FRANCIS (XAVIER DOLAN), NICOL (NIELS SCHNEIDER) AND MARIE (MONIA CHOKRI) SITTING ON A COUCH

 

The performances are all brilliant. Marie is so high strung but she never exploded, excluding her giving up when things did not go her way. Francis was so desperate and hurting in love it was remarkable, Dolan truly captured rejection and that moment you find out your love interest has no similar feelings – the scene with Francis walking down the staircase by himself had me in tears, I have felt that hurt as have most people.Nicolas is just divine, he played it borderline himbo until the end where I thought I saw the true player coming to the fore, a character I ended up disliking because of his mistreatment of affections. I think Nicolas is someone who can never love because he loves himslef so much, this does not make them a horrible person to be around but it never allows you to get too close to them, they are deluded in their own worlds and oblivious to the hurt people feel over them. I have had a few Nicolas’s in my life, they are so pretty to look at, but RUN :).

There was one thing I disliked in the movie, it felt like it lowered the film to student grade occasionally, it endeavoured to give the film some structural balance by having the scenes of the trio interlaced with cuts to losers in love relaying their tales of woe and heartbreak. I liked everything they spoke about and was interested in the tales but to me it felt disjointed – I would have preferred an opening montage of these stories as a prequel to the trio’s shenanigans.

 

HEARTBEATS MOVIE IMAGE
HEARTBEATS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | FRANCIS (XAVIER DOLAN) AND MARIE (MONIA CHOKRI) SHARING A BROLLIE

 

The movie is a work of genius in its exploration of themes but not only that, every frame is an artwork and Dolan knows how to make a film look beautiful and then mix in some amazing music that captures the mood of every scene, from Wagner to the oft heard BANG BANG sung by the French pop diva Dalida, who committed suicide in 1987.

If you love French cinema, love some good art house, or just good art, then get yourself a copy of HEARTBEATS (I bought it on DVD from Amazon.co.uk). Dolan isn’t a movie maker, in every sense of the word he is a remarkable auteur.

 

4 and a Half Pops