Sunday, April 17, 2011

Heartbeats (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


"Heartbeats" is an eerie and vibrant pop-art film from Quebec by Xavier Dolan, who also stars in the film as a young man obsessed with James Dean. The film centers on a love triangle and it is  as much of a re-telling of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray as it is about wanting to be remembered in love.

It focuses on three friends engaged in a menage a trois: Frankie, (the director Xavier Dolan) Marie, (Monia Chokri) and Nicolas (Niels Schneider). Nicolas is compared with Alexander The Great and has an obsession with Audrey Hepburn. To compete with Frankie, Marie dresses like Audrey. Frankie for his part, styles himself like James Dean. He winces. He broods. All the while, Nicolas flaunts himself without inhibition like rock icon Jim Morrison or Malcolm McDowell in the films "O Lucky Man!" or "A Clockwork Orange" sans violence.Nicolas is a libidinous lion, except he doesn't particularly care if he is on the prowl.
The film is executed in bold colors, shot  in sensual close-ups. The images echo the moving silkscreen films of Andy Warhol. There is also a hint of Lars Von Trier in the slow zen of the glossy images that are accompanied by classical music. However, the film most closely recalls "Pulp Fiction". The characters are ensnared in the cult of a dreamy bygone Hollywood with a cinematography worthy of  Douglas Sirk. Every gesture is a shadow play with ghosts of the silver screen. Bold Spring florals clash with the teenage film noir of cigarettes. Never have I seen the act of smoking executed in such abandon on film, but this is Montreal.
The melodrama  is interspersed with vignettes of affected youth who tell predominantly dry, sarcastic tales of love and obsession. A highlight is Anne-Elisabeth Bosse, who, with oversize glasses and a hawkish stare, has the aura of an Alex Forrest for the iPhone era. The film rivals "The Social Network" in making romantic isolation an element of style. The tales of heartbreak and sexual statistics seem to construct a kind of Chick Flick as if imagined by Mark Zuckerberg.  
"Heartbeats" is a subtle  kaleidoscope of the vain and the vicious with all the bold color of an InterView magazine. It is both a detachment and a delight. 

Oscar himself would smile.

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