Heartbeats (R15)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/10/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

Stylishly directed and featuring a terrific soundtrack, this is an engaging, enjoyable and frequently funny comedy-drama with strong performances from the three leads.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by 21 year-old Xavier Dolan, Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires, original title fans) is set in Quebec and stars Dolan and Monia Chokri as Francis and Marie, a pair of male and female best friends who both fall for blond, gorgeous, Nicolas (Niels Schneider). As the duo try to work out whether Nicolas is gay or straight (without actually bothering to ask him), they all form a close friendship that constantly borders on menage a trois territory, but jealousy gradually drives a wedge between the two friends.

Meanwhile, in a series of seemingly unrelated inserts (think When Harry Met Sally), several different characters discuss their own romantic problems with what appears to be an off-camera (and never heard) therapist.

The Good
The performances are excellent – Dolan (who looks a lot like Ryan Phillippe with a James Dean haircut) and Chokri (who resembles Martine Gedeck) generate sparky chemistry as the friends-turned-rivals, and the scenes where they subtly try to sabotage each other are very funny. There's also strong support from Schneider, though he isn't required to do much except deliver the odd tantalisingly vague line and lie around being really, really good-looking (cf Zoolander).

Dolan's direction is extremely stylish throughout, with striking use of colour and music that recalls Almodovar, while the plot has deliberate echoes of both Truffaut's Jules et Jim and Bertolucci's The Dreamers (as if the last was in any doubt, Louis Garrel pops in for an inspired cameo at the end). The film is also brilliantly structured, with several scenes mirroring each other in clever and imaginative ways.

The Great
As if Dolan's status as a talented 21-year-old writer-director-actor (and Heartbeats is his SECOND feature) wasn't sickening enough, it turns out he's also responsible for the stunning art direction, impressive editing and striking costume design. There's also a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack that makes particularly brilliant use of a Spanish cover of Cher's Bang Bang, by Dalida.

Worth seeing?
Heartbeats is an extremely enjoyable, stylishly directed arthouse comedy-drama with a witty script, gorgeous set design, a terrific soundtrack and superb performances from the three leads. It is also, quite possibly, the Frenchiest film you'll see all year (in a good way). Highly recommended.

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Heartbeats (R15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2019 04:30

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