Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires) – Movie Review

A review of the french film Heartbeats(Les Amours Imaginaires) following it’s trip to Cannes and a myriad of other festivals.

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Tis the season for romance. A new year, spring with the sun shining, and even tomorrow being Valentine’s Day it seems only appropriate that I was taken on a journey through the life of three friends in a modern exploration of what love truly entails.

The film Les Amours Imaginaires or Heartbeats, is simply that. A love story that is shared when two friends both fall for the same individual. While the plot does nothing groundbreaking, the realistic acting and dialogue help bring the film to life like no other romance film has.

The story circles around Francis and Marie as they try their very hardest to not fall for the mysterious “self-acclaimed Adonis” that is Nicolas. There is a bit of predictability though when the duo are first talking about him, both coming to conclusion that he supposedly not their type; and that is where the story begins. Nicolas, a very happy go lucky individual, doesn’t seem to favor either in any way, but there are certain nuances about him when he’s with the duo that would suggest otherwise. It isn’t long for both Marie and Francis to fall, and fall hard. Cue the struggle not only with themselves as they try and vie for a man’s attention whose aspirations in life seem to be that of wishing to not be tied down, coupled with the war between one another as they attempt to garner his affections, it seems you have quite the debacle. The rest of the film follows classic suit of watching them struggle until in the end a conclusion that fits all three perfectly comes about.While this story by no means is terribly unique, everything the filmmaker does thrusts the film forward into a list of films in my heart that involve the words breath taking, beautiful and deep.

One of the biggest things that is prominent throughout the film is the use of cinematography to really show off the story. Xavier Dolan knows exactly what to do behind and in front of the camera as one of the few directors that can really act and bring their work to a believable level. With stunning use of color, depth of field and with, an albeit a bit too much slow motion; Heartbeats is a visually stunning spectacle that ensnares the viewer and takes them on the journey through pure visual exploration. To say Dolan knows how to make art would be an understatement.

The film as a whole has very minor defects, as previously mentioned the use of slow motion nearly every five to ten minutes, was a bit much. However another thing bothered me that actually couples with that last sentiment. Every now and again in the film you see Marie and Frankie become intimate with some random individual. Once again Dolan uses color to suggest the mood in the room. Red for passion, green for envy, yellow for bitterness and blue for sadness, all work really well. However if you are going to do that, at least make the scene somewhat enjoyable. It was very awkward to sit there and watch characters I’d fallen in love with be in these situations where it was extremely apparent that they did not enjoy this individuals company. Other than that with a mix of some somber music the scenes are still at least good, but a little less enticing than the other portions of the film.

The characters were fantastic, all believable, all well acted and I actually would miss every single one when they weren’t on screen. With the lovely trio beginning to rip at the seams you see that a bit more rapidly which in turn ripped my heart out as well. Marie with her snide comments and “I’m better than everyone in this room” (while maintaining a sense of shyness) was simultaneously charming and vicious to watch. Frankie, with his struggling coping with being a homo sexual who has been “marked” plenty of times is a deep character that when I originally sat down for the film did not expect to see. As the other characters fell in love with Nicolas, I couldn’t help to avoid it either. His charm, intellect but also mysteriousness really plays into the core of attraction which first ensnares both Frankie and Marie to him. The characters are a brilliant balanced triangle to say the absolute least, and bit off kilter as a whole because of the unique predicament they all find themselves in.

When I first saw the trailer for Heartbeats, I had no doubt in my mind that I would love it. With a brilliant soundtrack, absolutely stunning use of the camera, and terrific acting and dialogue this is sure enough to entice all lovers of romance, film, and the French language. Xavier Dolan, has now been to Cannes film festival twice, and will more than likely continue returning there if he continues on this route. I have no doubt in my mind we will be seeing nothing but incredible work coming from Dolan for quite some time. All in all, do your best to see this film, even if it doesn’t sound exactly for you, you’ll at least find some charm in every single scene.

Heartbeats will be released in theaters on February 25th, 2011.

Rating: 8.5/10

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