Saturday, November 21, 2015

Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats) (2010)

Director: Xavier Dolan
Writer:    Xavier Dolan
Cast:       Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niels Schneider
Language: French (Quebec)

The story of three close friends who are involved in a love triangle. That would seem like a very cliched story-line and going by the poster you can surmise that it involves two men and a lady. But the difference is that the object of desire is not the woman in it. The lady and one of the guys, who is gay, have a long term friendship. The middle guy in the poster is a new friend of theirs and both of them have a crush on him and they know that. They are not sure of his sexuality and so the film proceeds from there. 

That is a synopsis that would make you wonder why it took this long for someone to come up with such a story-line. Film is laugh out loud funny throughout. Dolan chose to make it in a cringe-comedy fashion as the camera just lingers on the faces of its two main protagonists as they get confused and humiliated over the course of the film. Film begins in documentary style with several people talking about their relationships and break-ups. It also comes up at several different points later in the film and Dolan uses it to pad up the film and also as an exposition tool. He makes it a point to have someone explain Kinsey's concept that sexuality can be classed into seven types starting from strictly hetero-sexual and ending with strictly homo-sexual. Going by recent scientific studies it seems that only few can be considered to be in the extreme ends of this spectrum. The interview like segments in the film had several funny ones in it. It serves as useful editing cuts and to signify passage of time as well in the main story but I thought it was kind of lazy film-making and was not really necessary in the film. 

The other two films (MommyTom at the Farm) I have seen of Dolan's have been on the intense side and so the out and out comedy style of this film surprised me a bit, but in a pleasant manner. I had actually put off seeing it thinking that I would need to get in the right kind of mood to watch it. Great soundtrack is a given in his films and this one is not different. The recurring song in it is Dalida's Italian 'Bang Bang' song, YouTube video linked above, whose English version is familiar to me from Tarantino's 'Kill Bill'. Dolan was just 20 years old when he made this film and it got premiered at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section. Come to think of it, Bertolucci's 'Dreamers' is somewhat similar in terms of its three characters but that one had a looking from outside quality to it as the film was told from the perspective of the new one in the group of three and it was the siblings that stayed mysterious. And while watching Heartbeats, I thought the main two protagonists were siblings till around the middle of the film at which point it was made explicit that they were just friends. Anyway, it is a great watch and certainly much better than Dreamers. 

Rating: 4.5/5