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Movie Review


"Heartbeats," a French-Canadian film with English subtitles, recounts the evolving relationship among two old friends, Francis and Marie (Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri), and the sexually ambiguous Nicolas (Niels Schneider), whom each is drawn to. The feelings are mutual. Nicolas is seemingly attracted to Francis and Marie, though his emotions and motivations are never entirely clear. But then, lack of clarity is a hallmark throughout this plodding, pretentious film that might have been groundbreaking in, say, 1958.

Perhaps it's not coincidental that the movie's time frame is ill-defined. Consider this: The characters use cell phones and most boast a contemporary look and feel. Still, the leads smoke relentlessly and talk about Audrey Hepburn and James Dean as if they were contemporary icons. Marie uses a manual typewriter and dresses like a free-spirited fashionista right out of a Truffaut New Wave film. Is writer-director Dolan trying to evoke timelessness? Is he contending the themes are so universal, they span the decades?

The heavy-handedness continues. Interspersed throughout, characters who have no bearing on the story surface from time to time to offer commentary on relationships and sexuality. One assumes their intermittent presence and earnest thoughts are intended as a meaningful framework.

Though the performances seem competent enough, it's hard to know if anyone in this ill-conceived film can act. Still, Dolan has a following. "Heartbeats" is his second full-length feature. His debut movie, "J'ai tué ma mère," won many awards in addition to an array of nominations on the international festival circuit. At Cannes, for example, he won the Prix Regards Jeune and the Prix SACD. Chacun à son goût.

Genre: Drama
Written and directed by: Xavier Dolan
Starring: Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider.

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