Opening 7 Jul 2011
Young French Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s first film I Killed My Mother justifiably won three prizes at the 2010 Cannes film festival. It went on to high praise at other festivals including the Filmfest Hamburg. Dolan’s second film, Heartbeats, suffers the same symptoms as second novels which follow on the heels of first bestsellers: impossibly high expectations pave the way for disappointment. We moan, “It’s not as good as the first one.” I Killed My Mother was based on Dolan’s own experiences as a teenager. It would be interesting to know how much of Heartbeats is also biographical.
Francis and Marie are nice, young people who are friends in Montreal. They meet newcomer Nicolas, who fascinates them solely on the basis of his god-like good looks and blond curls. They both fall in love with him, and he basks in their admiration. In the race for Nicolas’ approval Francis and Marie sacrifice their friendship, starting with little quips like, “You love the concept more than him.” Nic, a spoiled Adonis, accepts their adoration as his due. (“The person on the pedestal is always right.”). He does nothing to earn their love, except teach them to eat marshmallows slowly like a striptease. He is a modern-day James Dean, and his most strenuous activity is to light and lift a cigarette, constantly and slowly. Simple adoration and flashes of long eyelashes behind cigarette smoke are not enough to hold our attention for 95 minutes. Whatever we think of this second film, we can certainly expect great things from Xavier Dolan, who, after all, is only 22 years old. He wrote and directed this film, as well as played the role of Francis, beside the, also excellent, actors Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider. (Becky Tan)