Xavier Dolan returns with Heartbeats
The film marries humour with Nouvelle Vague cool, and stars Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider
Xavier Dolan caused a stir two years ago when his assured debut feature, I Killed My Mother, won a string of awards at Cannes. The young director from Montreal was only 20 years old. If that wasn’t impressive enough he returned to the festival a year later with his second film, Heartbeats, an even more accomplished work which now comes to British cinemas, offering audiences the chance to see what all the fuss is about.
Heartbeats is the story of best friends Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (Dolan himself) who both fall in love with beautiful newcomer Nicolas (Niels Schneider). As the two vie for his affections, emotions intensify with results that are funny, cringe-worthy and all too identifiable. Whereas I Killed My Mother veered at times towards angst-ridden self-indulgence (perhaps unsurprising from a filmmaker who made the film whilst still in his teens), Heartbeats introduces a welcome dose of humour.
What stands out most though is Dolan’s enticingly cool aesthetic – his fondness for the French New Wave is more than evident while his beautiful protagonists are decked out in vintage attire and rarely seen without a cigarette in their hand. Yet this isn’t style without substance as Heartbeats successfully taps into the universal experiences of obsession, rejection and heartache.
GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 27 May. Preview screening and Q&A at Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Tue 24 May.