a film by Xavier Dolan
2010 | 97 mins | Canada
›› Heartbeats - Les amours imaginaires - aka: Love, Imagined
a visually intense ode to unrequited love.
Heartbeats by Xavier Dolan
Adapted Synopsis:-

When all round cutie Nicolas arrives in town, the close bond between openly gay Francis and his straight best friend Marie is put to the test when in competing for his seductive charms, cracks begin to appear in their once cast-iron friendship.

Dave Says:-

Actor, writer and director Xavier Dolan has already established quite a name for himself on the festival circuit and as this wondrous feature aptly demonstrates, there is good reason for such.
Heartbeats by Xavier Dolan
For this is a work filled with a series of exquisite moments, ones that perfectly capture the obsessive infatuation of two best friends, for the new man about town. And no wonder when Niels Schneider is every inch the blond Adonis of the piece, guaranteed to set hearts aflutter, let alone ignite a bitter rivalry between friends who come to find themselves falling head over heels in love, with the same man.

Only here Dolan pays specific attention to his narrative, casting Schneider (who had previously starred in his directorial debut I Killed My Mother) in a deliberately sexually ambiguous role, able to charm both men (Dolan) and women (the delectable Monia [Laurence Anyways] Chokri) off their feet. In short, this is a man who loves the attention of the chase, only to offer his admirers a fantasy figure in return; that of a look of love imagined in a morning smile or an accidental touch.

Yet in a work full of pros, including some lush slow motion cinematography, it has to be said that a few negatives are present in the mix and here I dare say that some may find the numerous and quite lengthy inserts of "real life" styled interviews with a number of secondary characters, a distraction from the main event. Thankfully all are notes on a theme that is beautifully played out, with Dolan's keen attention to detail all but evident from the choice of character wardrobe and visuals, to the score itself, one that includes the classic song "Bang, Bang" and yes, cue François Ozon's sing-a-long short A Summer Dress / Une robe d'été.

Laced with a series of neat touches; from the umbrella of friendship, to a cinematic homage to Audrey Hepburn, this is a work that some would argue is more akin to a short expanded into feature length duration, intercut as it is with a quartet of vibrant colour bathed encounters in the night. Yet it equally showcases a director willing to take risks and a remarkably young director at that too; twenty-one when he made this feature. For make no mistake, this equates to a visually intense ode to unrequited love, one that in Dolan's engrossing style charts the eternal love triangle by way of a shared longing for a man who in true narcissistic fashion, only really loves himself. It also marks a film in which Dolan continues to impress.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - strictly from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Available to buy from Amazon.com.

›› Available to buy from Amazon.co.uk.
available on DVD as part of the Network Releasing catalogue: 12.September.2011 / UK.
screened as part of the 25th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 2011.
principal players: Monia Chokri / Marie, Niels Schneider / Nicolas
and Xavier Dolan as Francis.
cameo appearance by Louis (The Dreamers) Garrel as L'invité à la soirée finale.
official website:
Copyright 2012 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #531
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