Heartbeats | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Heartbeats 

Heartbeats could stand to get over itself and grow up a little.

Pin It
Favorite
art13768widea.jpg
Two best friends fall for the same person—what story could be more achingly familiar and rich with storytelling possibilities? Ah, but what if the two friends were a straight woman and a gay guy? And what if everyone involved were hipster ciphers and nearly impossible to care about?

Xavier Dolan—a 21-year-old French Canadian wunderkind—wrote, directed and co-stars in Heartbeats as Francis, the gay male point on this triangle. He and his friend Marie (Monia Chokri) spot dreamy blond newcomer Nico (Niels Schneider) at a party, and both are instantly smitten. As they begin hanging out together in various permutations, they ponder his every word and gesture. Is he interested in either of them?

Or perhaps more relevant than, “Is he interested” is the question, “Is he interesting?” Dolan seems well aware of the fact that Nico is being romanticized beyond reason, no matter how much Francis and Marie tell themselves that it’s his intellectual name-dropping that’s so attractive. But the filmmaker doesn’t really have anything compelling to say about the shallow pursuits of these 20-somethings. Because Marie and Francis are nearly as lacking in discernible personality as Nico, it’s hard to be sympathetic—and hard not to wonder if Dolan is just as overly concerned with pretty surfaces.

Dolan breaks up his central story with unrelated pseudo-documentary interviews with other young people about their failed relationships, and it’s just one of the stylistic flourishes that show he’s not without gifts behind the camera. There’s a great early moment when Marie and Francis stand side by side in slow-motion, alternately stealing glances at Nico, and a couple of late snippets of piercing honesty. Those interstitial interviews, however, also suggest stories and characters far more interesting than the ones Dolan spends most of his time on. Heartbeats hints at what he could accomplish when he, like his protagonists, gets over himself and grows up a little.

HEARTBEATS

2_5_stars.gif

Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider
Not Rated

Pin It
Favorite

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Movie Reviews: New Releases for Dec. 4

    Another Round, Godmothered, Nomadland, The Prom and more
    • Dec 3, 2020
  • Vagabond Issues

    Nomadland paints pretty pictures without noting root causes of rootlessness.
    • Dec 2, 2020
  • Slope's On

    What to expect from an unusual ski season at Utah resorts.
    • Dec 2, 2020
  • More »

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Vagabond Issues

    Nomadland paints pretty pictures without noting root causes of rootlessness.
    • Dec 2, 2020
  • Star Power

    Melissa McCarthy leans on a different range of talents in the charming Superintelligence.
    • Nov 25, 2020
  • If the Bootstrap Fits

    With its author's rhetoric toned down, Hillbilly Elegy lacks a point of view
    • Nov 11, 2020
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • A Dream Come True

    After half a lifetime, Savannah Ostler's Twice the Dream becomes reality.
    • Apr 17, 2019
  • Simple Creatures

    The monster movie Sputnik can't deliver the subtext it promises
    • Aug 12, 2020

© 2020 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation