A threesome, lovely and trifling

Xavier Dolan as Francis (left), Niels Schnei- der as Nicolas, Monia Chokri as Marie in the film directed by Dolan.
Xavier Dolan as Francis (left), Niels Schnei- der as Nicolas, Monia Chokri as Marie in the film directed by Dolan.
Posted: March 25, 2011

Xavier Dolan, the 22-year-old writer/director and one of three stars of the French-Canadian Heartbeats, has a thing for napes. There are wonderful shots of his cast, and himself, taken from the rear, the lens at midrange assessing the smooth necks of these handsome Montrealers.

Borrowing from the French New Wave (think Truffaut's Jules and Jim, think Godard's A Woman Is a Woman), Heartbeats is about what happens when the impossibly curly-haired and sensual Nicolas (Niels Schneider) happens into the lives of best friends Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (Dolan). She's straight, he's gay, and both go gaga for "Nico," causing friction, and frisson, in this triangular affair.

With many a nod to cinema chic icon Audrey Hepburn (Marie is all about vintage clothes and retro handbags - she even taps her missives on a typewriter!), Heartbeats transpires in sunny cafes, arty apartments, and along colorfully graffitied sidewalks. Money doesn't seem to be an issue, or employment, for that matter. There are hip soirees filled with neo-bohos and McGill grad students, and a soundtrack of cool chansons. ("Bang Bang" by the late Egyptian-French popster Dalida - how cool is that?) This is also the second film in a week to reference the Kinsey Scale, the famous sex researchers' gauge of hetero-to-homosexuality. (The other: Kaboom.) The subject arises for obvious reasons in the context of what's going on.

Alas, although Heartbeats is quite lovely to look at, there isn't much going on after all. To pad out the wistful, moody business between Marie, Francis, and the object of their affection, Dolan throws in doc-style soliloquies from a handful of characters speaking with rue about the romantic entanglements (and disentanglements) of their lives.

It's sweet, and cinegenic, and Dolan is certainly a talent to watch. This is his second feature, and he still has peach fuzz on his face - and on the back of his neck, too.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/

 

|
|
|
|
|