Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Heartbeats": French-Canadian Xavier Dolan's second feature, at 21, a bisexual love triangle

Heartbeats” (2010) is the second bisexual dramedy from French Canadian Xavier Dolan, this film made at age 21.  The French title “Les amours imaginaries” would be more descriptive – I wish distributors didn’t change the titles when translating them.  “Fantasies” might be closer.

This film present, is garish saturation, a 3-way love triangle between Marie (Monia Chokri), Francis (Xavier Dolan in his own film) and lanky, blond, mop-headed Nickolas (Niels Schneider), the most visible of the trio.  The film is supposed to mimic new wave, although any reference to “In Praise of Love” is hard to see.  The music offers, besides Bach on unaccompanied cello and the quiet opening of Wagner’s Parsifal,  some pop music from the 60s, especially “Bang Bang” (Cher, 1966; I remember hearing thisi song all the time in the dorm at the University of Kansas;the film uses it again in the closing credits soundtrack -- and this music itself requotes Bach!).  Dolan’s camera loves to linger on textural details – like outdoors in the early Canadian autumn, on trees not quite bare yet; and indoors, on young adult male flesh, not nude, but showing the signs of early virility and contrast – the hairy legs, the tender chests, and the like.   This is a world of emerging adults who are yet to be tested by anything like real hardships. 

People communicate by typewritten and handwritten letters, sometimes with poetry.   When I experienced my “second coming”, I remember getting a couple of embarrassing hand-written letters from older men in the mail at my own suburban apartment.

The official Canadian site is here   (IFC and Alliance Atlantis).

The film can be rented on YouTube legally for $2.99.  I watched it from a Netflix DVD.
A film that came back to mind was "Four Friends" (1981, Orion), by Arthur Penn, which I remember from my days in Dallas. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Quebec City picture   (My visits, 1977 and Aug. 1993).  (Author is Bruns, Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5 Canadian license.) 

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