The tremulous terrain of the teenaged libido has always offered rich mines to ore in the segregated subgenres of movies. Fascinating actor-director Xavier Dolan is well aware of this and exploits it to the nth degree with a crafty combination of bravado and vapidness in his second feature film, the incendiary navel gazer Heartbeats.
Taking pages from Godard, in his first phase, and Araki in his entirety, we are slapped around with a vibrantly colorful, masterfully controlled and unmistakably affecting tale of young desire, maybe love and everything in between. Dolan is smoldering as the anti-hero, a dubious gay young man drifting in a haze of music and fashion in modern Quebec. Monia Chokri adds dimension to his bitter, lonely fag hag, and Niels Schneider is perfect as the daft twink of their wildest dreams.
Dolan uses music and editing to procure a rhythm which is quite mystifying in its spell over the audience, as we follow these proto-pathetic youngsters and begin to feel an ache like their ache, for an aimless life punctuated by alcohol, cigarettes and sex.What could have been tepid and stereotypical bounds outwards thanks to the director's imagination and intuitive hand with the camera. Set piece after set piece wows with joy, while cutting to the heart of the matter, forcing us to face the questions we avoid within our own lives. . . . am I truly happy? Have I found love or am I merely surviving desire?
This brave, singular film sidesteps the trenches so many films fall victim to, as Dolan rises as one of the most promising young filmmakers in the world, having shaped a film which defines in every way what it means to be free.