Cannes Review: Xavier Dolan's Superb Les Amours Imaginaires
by Alex Billington
May 16, 2010
Another film I was looking forward to seeing here in Cannes (after the trailer) was young Quebec filmmaker Xavier Dolan's newest lavish love story, Les Amours Imaginaires, or simply just Heartbeats in English. I'm not even sure how to explain the style of the film, since I could categorize it as hyper-stylized, but it was one of the most beautifully shot films at Cannes this year and one film that I will definitely not be forgetting anytime soon. Its a uniquely modern bit of cinema that I'm absolutely in love with and I can't even begin to think about it without listening to Dalida's "Bang, Bang" which is used almost as a theme song in the film.
As the writer, director, and star, Xavier Dolan presents a somewhat unusual love story about two friends, one female, one male, who both fall in love with the same guy, both attempting to woo him, but not to much success. Dolan is a gay filmmaker and loves to present that in his films, which makes for a very interesting cinematic experience. It's often times amusing to just watch two different people going after the same guy. The problem is that the story doesn't have much depth and it doesn't break norm. Dolan uses slow-mo and powerful songs to extended scenes and moments, but it causes the story drag on a bit more than it should.
Despite those minor criticisms, I'm in love with this film (and it's lead actress Monia Chokri) as much as I possibly can be, simply because I love Dolan's style and use of music as well as his very modern characters (and the superb performances that embody each of them). It's essentially a fairly simple and amusing love story wrapped in a much more visually stimulating package and it is entertaining to watch, despite a usual desire to discover more intellectual films here in Cannes. That said, this is one film that will remain on my mind after the fest is over. And to get a better idea of its style, watch the teaser we posted a few weeks ago.
Alex, have you seen «J'ai tué ma mère», Dolan's first movie? And if so, how would you compare the 2? Is this one as personnal? I'm from Montreal and Dolan is the MAN of the moment here and his presence in Cannes as the only french canadian filmmaker there makes him even more the center of attention. The guy is 20!!! amazing! Since his first movie was such a hit here, people worry that his second feature might not meet the very high expectations. Anyhow i think it's amazing that you take time to promote lesser known movies to the internet community.
Max on May 16, 2010
Trying a different format then the one you used for Sundance? I liked the simple "loved it"/"hated it" ratings because it's hard to get a read of which films have been your favorites so far compared to the others. Seems like you love and hate them all a little bit and nothing has really stuck out so far.
peloquin on May 16, 2010
the worst film I saw in cannes (and the least memorable)!
raymond on Sep 14, 2010
My review of this film: Bang Bang - Coup de foudre This film is awesome in how it so exactly portrays unrequited love when one doesn't yet realize it is unrequited. This film combines visuals, music and mood to emulate love in such a way that I suspect Xavier Dolan must have been influenced by Death in Venice. Nicolas, the love object, reminds me so much of a somewhat older Tadzio that it is uncanny. At one point one of the characters who is after him buys him a hat very similar to the one Tadzio wore in Death in Venice. Nicolas plays those who are in love with him like Tadzio played Dirk Bogarde's character. I think of this film as a modernized version of the famous tragedy though there are differences as well. Les Amours Imaginaires is not a remake of Death in Venice it just uses some of the same techniques and messages. This film is for anyone who has ever loved and been hurt, rejected or perhaps never been loved at all. Nicolas is as painfully beautiful as Tadzio and, hard to believe as it is, is even more beautiful than Xavier Dolan in this film. I highly recommend it.
Mike J on Dec 31, 2010
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