Writer, actor and director Xavier Dolanâ€™s Heartbeats could have been a fantastic movie. It has an interesting premise for a love story that separates it from all the standard Nicholas Sparks-style love stories. But unfortunately, the film has some major flaws that are hard to overlook.
Francis, a homosexual male (Dolan) and Marie, a heterosexual female (Monia Chokri), are two friends who live in French-Canada. Both of them meet and form a friendship with Nicholas (Niels Schnider, who looks like a curly-haired Robert Pattinson). However, things get complicated for the two friends when both start to develop romantic feelings for their new friend. How will their friendship turn out? And will either of them end up with the person they desire?
Firstly, this is a foreign film. Itâ€™s in French with English subtitles. If that turns you off then this is definitely not a film not for you.
Though there are plenty of negatives, letâ€™s start with the positives. The performances from the three leads are very good. Though their characters arenâ€™t very well developed, the actors sell their performances and manage to make their roles very likable. Dolan especially deserves credit for his performance as Francis, for not portraying him as a stereotypical homosexual male.
The film gets off to a rocky start, but once the characters are established and the narrative gets going, things get better. It moves at a good pace and it looks good. The cinematography is nothing to write home about, but the shots are decent. The stuff filmed in the countryside is particularly good-looking. The dialogue is decent; it can feel a little outlandish at times, but it is never offensively bad. The film does have a lot of heart and passion behind it.
The main problem with this movie concerns what feels like a lot of filler. The biggest culprits are these pseudo-documentary parts where people talk about how they have been harmed by love, sort of like the pseudo-documentary scenes in When Harry Met Sally. But in this movie, they go on longer than they need to and donâ€™t have anything to do with the narrative of the story at all. Itâ€™s almost as if the director just threw these scenes in to try spicing things up, but forgot to make the scenes flow alongside the narrative.
The other problem is the times where things randomly go into slow motion. It tends to happen when characters are walking down the street. Thereâ€™s really no purpose for it and it seems like itâ€™s just an attempt to be artsy.
Also, there are times when the two friends are lying in bed with sex partners. They have a bit of conversation and then go back to making love. Again, it just seems like filler and doesnâ€™t have any purpose.
Overall, Heartbeats is a film that disappoints. Though the heart and passion can be felt in the acting and direction, there is just way too much filler, and it tries to be too clever at times. Had it been more focused on the characters and story it would have been great, but unfortunately this is one that can probably be skipped.