heartbeats (2010)

I’ll be honest. Judging by the cover art that was posted on Netflix, I thought Heartbeats was a lesbian movie. Nope. Just has some really pretty boys in it. And yeh, that was kind of a letdown. In fact, I hesitate to even call this movie a gay movie. It’s basically a Québécois version of Threesome, with way better cinematography. It only really earns its gay chops by including a gay sex scene, lit moodily, that starts with crying. Classic.

I guess I should run through the kind of standard movie review stuff first, before getting to what you really want to hear. This film is gorgeous. Director/star Xavier Dolan has made a beautiful film that has some beautiful people in it (hubba, hubba Niels Schneider as Nick!), and the performances in the film are intricate, nuanced and compelling – definitely a level of skill that rarely dons the cloak of “gay cinema.” And the outfits outfits are awesome. Werk.

There.

So here’s the deal. This film is that classic modern-day trope of gay guy and girl friend falling for the same (Adonis-like) dude, Nick (Schneider), and of course, every self-respecting fag watching this film is rooting for the Mary over Marie (played by Monia Chokri). But be warned, queers, you’re balls are gon’ be blue. I’m spoiling this shit right here, right now, because you need to know. No one wins. He’s straight, but not interested in neurotic, chain-smoking Marie who dresses like a zaftig Audrey Hepburn, and no amount of fraternity can make things ok after Francis (Dolan) confesses his love to Nick and is met with “Why would you think I’m gay?” Why?! Look at you! You look like a jailbait version of Jonny Greenwood with a 90s sitcom mop-top!

Pretty, yes. Well-made, yes. Satisfying? Ultimately… non!

I’m not sure how I would have liked this film to turn out. Sometimes you need a film to make your cultural life and point-of-view feel just a tad more marginalized, and this film will surely do it. But with a French(ish) film called “Heartbeats,” with hot pink cover art angel-faces on it, I was hoping for something a little less hopeless.

It is interesting to note that the “moody gay French downer pic” is always a little quirkier on this side of the pond. Think C.R.A.Z.Y. versus Time to Leave. Keep it up Canucks! And nice work Mr. X(avier Dolan). Keep trying. Maybe next time you’ll get some ass.

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