Love, French-Canadian Style in "Heartbeats"
Heartbeats, the second feature from 21-year-old wünderkind Xavier Dolan, is an Instagram of the way we fuck now — or, more precisely, the way gorgeously costumed and coifed French-Canadian early-20-somethings fuck and/or fail to fuck while tripping over their own misguided attempts to land in love. The film bounces between montages of faux interviews with young lovelorns — shot with "documentary"-style jerky zooms, establishing that Dolan's interest in generational anthropology is more style than substance — and an equally superficial narrative dissecting the passive aggression of young lusters. At a dinner party, Marie (Chokri) and her gay bestie, Francis (Dolan), meet an "Adonis," Nicolas (Schneider). With neither friend brave enough to admit their crush, the three hop around Montreal together as an ostensibly platonic unit, Marie and Francis laboring to hide their seduction tactics from each other while transmitting the message to their common adored. Which one does Nicolas want? Francis and Marie obsessively catalog his every gesture and aside, but the clues he drops only muddle the matter. Dolan is able to derive a certain comic tension from the simple threat of what could happen with these three in close quarters, but he fails to offer any kind of insight into his characters' behavior — he defines them by what they look like and too often indulges in their gazes without critiquing them. An undeniable triumph of artifice, Heartbeats is as drunk on beauty and blind to truth as its deluded singles.
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