Called the ‘new darling of Canadian cinema’, writer-director-actor Xavier Dolan is only 21 years old. His latest film, Heartbeats, in which he also stars, was nominated for four Genie awards and was highlighted at Cannes. It’s the story of two friends (gay man, heterosexual woman) in Montreal who fall in love with the same man (a blond curly-haired Adonis) and fight each other for his affections. Truffaut’s Jules et Jim comes to mind, of course, and there is a definite connection between Dolan’s films and the French New Wave of the 60s.
I do think Dolan has a great future, but I have never been impressed with style for its own sake and so Heartbeats failed to impress me. The acting was quite good and there were some brilliant moments, but overall there was not much in the story to hold my attention. I actually found the documentary-style interviews that interrupt the film generally more entertaining (better dialogue anyway), though overall I didn’t see any wisdom in putting them in the film (at least not where they were).
For those who want to see the future of Canadian cinema, you might want to check out this romantic comedy, but not if you are looking for a romantic comedy in the Hollywood tradition (not that I am implying the latter is better - heavens no!). I give Heartbeats *** for effort and I look forward to Dolan’s more mature filmmaking a few years down the road. My mug is up but the stuff inside looks better than it tastes.
Another new French-Canadian film coming tomorrow - this time the winner of eight Genie awards.