Heartbeats is a film that broke my heart.
Xavier Dolan’s look at lust, obsession and the pain that comes with that, is so real as it permeates from the eyes of all three of the main characters.
Set in present day, but with visual cues harking back to early French New Wave film, Heartbeats tells the story of two very best friends Maria (Monia Chokri) and Francis (director Xavier Dolan), whose obsession with their new found friend Nicolas (Niels Schneider) will test their relationship.
Each of them lust after Nicolas, and as such, each of them in their own superficial way, attempt to lure him, slowly cutting into their own relationship deeper and deeper.

The casting of this film is extraordinary. Niels Schneider is perfectly cast as the Adonis-Cupid-like Nicolas who sweeps into the film with charm, and beauty rarely seen on screen before. His look and performance blends together characters from Derek Jarman’s masterpiece ‘Sebastiane‘  and Visconti’s ‘Death in Venice’.  It’s hard to resist Nicolas, and as such that makes the film that more painful.


Monia Chokri, as Maria, a sophisticated girl who seems the need to reinvent herself in every scene, hoping to catch the eye of Nicolas, is wonderful. But for me, it is Xavier Dolan himself who gives not only the standout performance of the film, but one of the best of the year.
Rarely has someone on film been able to express his grief, sadness and yearning with a tilt of his head or a nervous tick, quite like Xavier did. I found myself sympathetic for his character as the film progressed, all the while, hoping that his dreams and wants were fulfilled.

The film is shot so beautifully by Stephanie Anne Weber Biron, rich colours harking back to 50’s fashion, along with slight out of focus
slow motion scenes. The soundtrack grows with luscious tracks such as ‘Bang Bang’ by Dalida  and ”Pass this on” by The Knife.

And collectively, the film is a dream bubble, fragile and precious, that lingers over your head and heart, until bursting with the final scenes.

Heartbeats is one of the best films you will see in 2011.
It is screening at ACMI from 7 April – 1 May
Tickets: $14 concession  $11 ACMI member.
Screener DVD supplied by ACMI 

 4 stars out of 5.
 [A nominee for my best film of 2011, best supporting actor of 2011 and best director 2011]