Heartbeats the Movie
The latest film by Xavier Dolan is a bitingly acerbic look at what happens when we crush on the same person as our good friend and let our friendships suffer. See trailer.
Anyone else experienced that awkward, awkward moment when it’s revealed that you and your good friend are frantically crushing on the same person? It’s the main subject of Xavier Dolan’s stingingly acerbic follow-up to I Killed My Mother, Suzie and that acclaimed piece of difficult viewing, Martyrs. The story is centered around two best friends – vintage queen Marie (Monia Chokri) and uncertain, fashionable Francis (Dolan) – who both tumble into infatuation with an angelic-curled, pretty-eyed boy from out-of-town, Nicolas (Niels Schneider). In the face of a passive-aggressive fight for his affections, their cosy domesticity with each other slowly but surely begins to break down. The consequences are subtle, hilarious and devastating.
One of Dolan’s signatures will undoubtedly become his gorgeous, sweeping cinematography with striking crisp colour palettes, suggesting both the cutting edge of young urban life and the uncertain muzziness of a dream by turn.
Scenes like a discussion about the theatre exhibit the aimlessness of these overeducated twentysomethings, particularly as they begin to realise the complicated implications of attraction. Not to mention whether straw boaters and neon orange jumpers ever make appropriate birthday gifts. (Apparently they do.)
The script itself is stylishly biting. “Some vintage,” comments Francis to Hepburn-wannabe Marie on one occasion, “should stay in the past.” At other times, it is yearningly sad; particularly in a sequence where Marie and Francis try to rebuild their friendships with Nicolas, and then with each other, through a series of answerphone messages. “I bought new teacups,” Marie pleads in invitation. Look out for the confrontation between Marie and Nicolas about poetry; wincing on her behalf is practically mandatory there.
As in real life, conversations are awkward, meandering, left unfinished. Arguments, rather than by shouting, are battled out using undercurrents of tension and narrowed eyes. Beautiful people break the hearts of beautiful people break the hearts of beautiful people, who then drink tea and try not to talk about it.
Dolan himself is definitely a new indie director to watch. Having debuted his first film, I Killed My Mother, at twenty – receiving a standing ovation at Cannes – he returns with the piercing, quasi-satirical eye of someone able to look back on a very recent past.
Heartbeats, or Les Amours Imaginaires (the title of its original release) is the story of that time in our lives when we all harbour a desperate, secret love, and how our other relationships can suffer for it.