Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sydney Film Festival: Xavier Dolan's Hearbeats.

I hate Xavier Dolan. It’s not that I didn’t like his film Heartbeats which screened in competition at the Sydney Film Festival, in fact it’s quite the opposite. It was fantastic. Only, you know that person you resent because they’re your age, but somehow manages to be infinitely more talented, successful, attractive, and charming etc etc? That’s him. While he has not one, but count it, two films at the festival (Heartbeats and I Killed Me Mother) whilst I… am sitting in the audience in jealous awe. At only 21 Xavier Dolan has had his two films collect accolades all over the globe including Un Certain Regarde at the mother of all film festivals Cannes earlier this year.

"Hi, my name's Xavier and I'm more sucessful and attractive than you'll ever be"

Ever since the eye catching and sumptuous trailer for Heartbeats debuted I’ve had an eye out for this one, and was very high up on my “must see” list for the festival, and I am pleased to say it does not disappoint. As well as directing the film, Dolan wrote, starred in and almost every second name on the ending credits reads “Xavier Dolan”. See what I’m getting at here? It’s the lemon juice being squeezed on our own inadequacy. Dolan begins his film with a series of short, but delightful vignettes of people telling a short story about love, romance, sex or lack there of. We are then introduced to BFF’s Francis (Dolan) and Marie played brilliantly by Monia Chokri, who simultaneously become enchanted with the new hottie in town Nicolas, played with just the right balance of cockiness and charm by Niels Schnieder. Cue the ultimate ménage a trois that is always tethering on the edge, waiting to happen. Both Francis and Marie become engaged in a silent battle for the flirtatious “Adonis” with ambiguous sexuality, and the tension between them simmers beautifully.

Two's company...

There is a certain demographic of the hipster culture that the film certainly lends itself toward and this may put off some viewers. The film is jam packed with any and everything hipster from the upturned bottom of skinny leg jeans, unconventional hair, vintage clothes, pop culture references but only to films and actors pre 1960, unmatching tea sets and an affinity for all things twee. This is certainly evident in the fact that the majority of adoring twitter responses to the film after the screening were for some reason written in French. Tres chique. That’s not to say it’s not a film accessible by many people but it might have to be something Dolan might have to watch if his career is really set to boom.

Curls get the girls. And boys apparently.

That said, it’s Dolan’s visual flair that pays homage to many filmmakers, accompanied with a very witty, engaging and heartfelt script that really make the film a cinematic treat. Whilst Dolan’s journey as a filmmaker is certainly very developed for someone of his age there is still certainly some room to grow, but this only makes his promising career all the more exciting to watch out for.

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