Heartbeats is Dolan’s second film following his debut film I Killed My Mother(J’ai Tue Ma Mere) 2009. The film was originally premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Heartbeats tells a story of two best friends Francis(performed by the director himself Xavier Dolan) and Maria(Monia Chokri) whose friendship is tested when they meet Nicolas(Niels Schneider) who they both have feelings for.
The story of the film is incredibly basic, we’ve all seen it before but it’s the work and performances of Xavier Dolan that makes Heartbeats such a pleasure in watching. I reckon that this is a film that a lot of people are going to find simply too pretentious and ‘hipster’, but what I saw was a story of a love triangle with lush cinematography, excellent heartfelt performances and great potential in Dolan as a director.
There is perhaps a great deal more of slow motion scenes than there should be, but the moments it’s used it’s incredibly fitting and intelligently used. The appearance of the costumes, lighting has a vintage touch suiting the characters and gives the film a quirky feel. Whilst Maria(Chokri) is an intelligent confident character, it’s Francis(Dolan) I found myself rooting for. Dolan performs Francis with such accuracy it’s hard not to feel what he’s feeling; every movement he makes on screen has a feeling of heartache as he longs for Nicolas. Nicolas is somewhat of an interesting character because it isn’t quite obvious whether he is purposefully leading both Francis and Maria on sabotaging their friendship, or whether he is unknowingly doing so. But theres a charm that Nicolas portrays that makes him simply difficult to dislike during the film.
I find the conclusion to the film to be a perfect ending to the film, (no spoilers) and has an edge of realism which is one of the features I find most attractive about the film. Dolan has given an ending which may be disappointing if you’re rooting for a certain characters happiness, but it seems to be the ending that put things right. This isn’t going to be a film for everyone, it’s story is a little dry and slow moving but it certainly isn’t lacking depth in character emotions, nor is it lacking in stylistic elements. For a second film by Dolan it promises a successful career in both acting and directing.