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Movies Review

Cannes 2010: 'Heartbeats'

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Heartbeats
Released on Wednesday, May 19 2010

A rising star of cinema at just 21, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan follows up his 2009 Cannes awards winner I Killed My Mother with a romantic love triangle drama set in Montreal. In Heartbeats, the director pulls an extra shift acting as Francis, a gay twentysomething who shares a rock-solid bond with Mary (Marion Cotillard-a-like Monia Chokri). It's the arrival of Nicholas (Niels Schneider), a gangly, curly-haired blond that threatens to rip them apart as they vie for his affections.

The Heartbeats trio at times come across as insufferably smug, with Nicholas in particular being such an empty vessel that it's hard to figure out what the others see in him. Dolan's Francis is the only mildly sympathetic character in the bunch. The movie deals with themes of obsession and longing with a fairly humorous slant. Francis and Mary's competitive nature raises a few laughs as they attempt to replicate the styles of James Dean and Audrey Hepburn when it emerges that Nick has a fondness for both. Frustratingly, though, Dolan executes his story like an expensive student project. It's art house and offbeat; extended slow-motion tracking scenes, lingering and sensual camera shots and dramatic repetitions of Dalida's 'Bang, Bang' are the order of the day here. A film of great style, for sure, but one of limited substance.

When maturity curbs some of his more indulgent tendencies, Dolan will almost certainly be a directorial force to be reckoned with. Heartbeats may not be a groundbreaking picture, but it certainly has flashes of artistic merit and will find an audience in dedicated indie kids. In Dolan, the hipster crowd might well have found their latest poster boy.



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