Monday, March 7, 2011


Intentionally or unintentionally, this a horror film about the desire of the style without the substance. 

Francis (played by writer/director/actor Xavier Dolan) and Marie are shown to us in a WS shot of their backs in the beginning of the film. They are established through this shot as a singular character. When they expose their faces, their personhood, they first glance at Nicolas, the duo's collective love interest in the film. This collective voyeurism represents an obsession, one which we come to realize can only be of the aesthetic. What I took from Heartbeats is a statement about the main farce held by the youth in the modern of the comfort of consumption over ethos.

Neo-Liberalism Is Sexy
Marie lives in an apartment with an assortment of useless, but visually pleasing furnishings. She dresses well, but her outer appearance via clothes only is a mask. Then with Francis we are supposed to grasp him also buy his clothes, what he buys at hip shops, and that major realizations for him are whether or not to get a James Dean haircut. Then all Marie and Francis seem to be able offer their love interest Nicolas are things they bought. Something which is made more poignant when we are informed Nicolas is a spawn of the ruling class. Maybe he is the cause of the soulless world the characters inhabit?

Visuals To Question the Visual
We see Marie or Francis in slow motion naked in bed. Then the film's best scenes are of Marie and Francis gazing at their "adonis" Nicolas in slow motion. We also see the duo outside, in which we are given slowmo CU shots of the clothes or of items they're buying. These scenes come off as satire, banal to an extreme, giving us a heightened moment of visual, but the alienation is we get nothing else.

An Unintentional Auto-Criticism
This is not a Canadian Mumblecore film, but it came off in a manner I thought was of criticism. A satire of the white petit-bourgeois graphic design and consumer driven lifestyle of the hipster. There are directorial choices though that don't allow the film to fully culminate into a critique.

One of these choices was the inclusion of documentary-style interviews between scenes of characters outside of the film's world. I feel this was an attempt at realism, which drew somewhat from what the farcical whole. These interviews had characters espouse their stereotypical romantic film views on love, which were without depth, but connect with the masses raised on such romantic notions a meaning of purpose. Even though love is insanity sometimes, especially when looked at through a sociological lens, which is what the rest of the film seemed to be pushing. These interviews scenes then made me question Dolan's intentions, which could of just been the attempt at a hipster rom com.

Still, Dolan is 21, maybe if critique was his aim, he just might not be at the height of his powers

VERDICT: SEE IF YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE BETTER TO DO. Ultimately this is a portrait of a generation. Whether criticism was Dolan's aim or not, it can be criticized, and the possibilities born out of such could yield a decent discussion. Over all the film is visually impressive, which is all it is, but that might be the point.


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