Friday, March 18, 2011


Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires)

Heartbeats Talented 21-year-old Canadian director Xavier Dolan impressed the world with his terrific directorial feature debut "I Killed My Mother" (J'ai tué ma mère | Canada 2009). His stylish and moody "Heartbeats" (Les amours imaginaires | Canada 2010 | in French | 95 min.) affirms his status as a promising filmmaker. Echoing Wong Kar-wai's "In the Mood for Love" (花样年华 | Hong Kong 2000), he tells a story about unrequited love and its overwhelming effect in his second feature.

Sensitive Francis (Xavier Dolan) and chain-smoking Marie (Monia Chokri) are close friends. However, their BBF (Best Friends Forever) relationship begins to crumble when the beautiful, charming, irresistible, elusive, ambiguous, and free-spirit Nicolas (Niels Schneider) shows up—both Francis and Marie fall for Nicolas helplessly and obsessively. When the threesome go to a country guest-house for a mini-vacation, suppressed emotions inside Francis and Marie finally erupt, which make Nicolas casually claims: "Hey guys, I've had it with the country, I'm going home."

While the film brilliantly depicts the mood and fantasized desire inside the protagonists, its dialogues are not as witty and humorous as in "I Killed My Mother." In fact, those unnamed talking heads in mock interviews are prattling and dull. However, once they stop talking occasionally, when they characters parade across the screen in slow motion frequently, when the Dalida's singing of "Bang Bang" blasts off repeatedly, a delicious Wong Kar-wai moment will appear on the screen, with a French-Canadian flavor.

Niels Schneider as NICOLAS in HEARTBEATS directed by Xavier Dolan

Xavier Dolan is truly a gifted prodigy. Based on the credits, it almost looks like that he single-handedly crafted this film. He is the writer, director, actor, producer, art director, costume designer, and editor.

No matter if you are in the mood for love, you will witness the burning desire vividly in this film. And it hurts, a lot.

"Heartbeats," an IFC Films release, opens on Friday, March 18, 2011 at Bay Area theaters.

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