Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Romance
Opens locally Friday, April 29th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 43 minutes, Not Rated
Starring: Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider
Written & Directed by Xavier Dolan
"Heartbeats" definitely marches to the beat of it's own drum. It's basically a modern love triangle that ends up being a bit more square than star, writer and director Xavier Dolan probably intended. It's the kind of film that fancies itself as a hip and trendy indy but it's not nearly as cool as it thinks it is.
The Plot. Xavier Dolan is the star, writer, and director, and does create 2 visually memorable characters in Francis (Dolan) and Marie (Chokri). These two friends, male and female, are also a bit more than friends, in a "don't label me" youthful rebellious kind of way. When Nicholas, a hot new guy on the scene, enters the picture, both Francis and Marie fall for him. There is little communication as both try to carry on a "no strings attached" relationship with Nicholas, but as you can guess, the further they both fall for Nicholas the more their friendship becomes strained.
The performances in the film are not to fault, it's just that Dolan's approach to story-telling is so arrogant and in love with itself that it doesn't lend itself to making us care too much about the characters on screen. Each frame of the film is like a personal love letter from Dolan to Dolan, as if he just graduated film school and is trying to pour everything he learned into each shot. The result is a movie with a lot of trendy music, and so many slow-motion sequences that the movie may have been 10 minutes long if played in real-time. It's the kind of unecessary "artsy" slow-motion that takes our attention away from the story and has us focusing on the filmmaker while we watch. You remember the slow-motion sequence in "Reservoir Dogs?" Imagine this effect used throughout the entire movie.
Dolan, looking like the 2nd coming of James Dean, and the mesmorizing Monia Chokri, spend much of their time staring at Nicholas, or just staring at other things. Scenes literally go on for minutes, in slow-motion, of them checking out a room, or walking down the street.
If you can get passed the film's love of itself, you will find a ho-hum love triangle that is cliched other than the fact that this triangle features a man and a woman fighting for the affection of another man.
But beyond that, the film would have maybe worked better as a short, as the first 10 minutes or so was very visually interesting. It's just that it used the same over-the-top style for over 100 minutes. It's a movie about love, and passion, but shown in slow-motion, it's like romance on vicadin. For a movie called "Heartbeats," one would expect it to have more of a pulse.
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