Heartbeats Review

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Twenty-two-year-old filmmaker Xavier Dolan's romantic drama is a hipster’s delight.

Twenty-two-year-old filmmaker Xavier Dolan writes, directs, produces and stars in Heartbeats – an ebulliently louche romantic drama guaranteed to bolster his standing with hipster mag hacks and fashion wannabees.

Shot through with the sort of hazy late-summer vibe that suggests a romantic nostalgia Dolan is still to callow to articulate, Heartbeats details an awkward love triangle in which best friends Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (Dolan) find themselves at odds over curly haired Adonis Nicolas (Niels Schneider).

Nicolas is one of those peculiarly hateful androgyne Frenchmen, prone to artless pouting and adolescent pique, but sporting a razor-sharp sense of self-regard. And he lives one of those equally hateful French cinema lives of crumbling country retreats and just-so urban dishevelment.

All of which sends Marie and Francis into quite the spin (not to mention last year’s Cannes critics, who cheered Heartbeats to death after its festival premiere). In an escalating war of affection, the former-friends lavish Nicolas with fancy gifts and doe-eyed come-ons, while the dewy prick-tease hints at good times just around the corner.

In fairness to Dolan, it’s not his fault he’s mega young and good at everything. The boy wonder can arrange a frame all right, and has a fine sense of both cinematic and sartorial style. It’s just that he makes the mistake of thinking that these people are interesting – that their naivety is profound and their innocence beguiling, when they’re precisely the kind of self-absorbed bourgeois fantasists who probably constitute the majority of Dolan’s audience.

So this is probably a smart move on his part – after all, they say ‘shoot what you know’. Eventually, Marie and Francis will come to learn that some things are more important than sex. For anybody who’s already figured that out, this hackneyed teen dream is a bit of a bore.

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