Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 22310


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Louis Garrel as L'invité à la soirée finale
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by wickest 7 / 10

It's not love, but that's the point

I agree with another reviewer that love is not the real subject of the film. The characters think they're feeling love, and they're certainly looking for love, but in such a shallow and conniving way they're incapable of getting beyond mere sensuality at best. This is a film which starts out superficially, as superficial as its characters. Their lack of depth is underlined by the interviews of more interesting people that we would almost rather be following, but we're stuck with this trio of narcissists trying to impress each other through attitude, clothes, and money-- each locked within his competitive self and each masturbating in his or her own way. The director's own vanity fits in perfectly with his fetishist approach, the Wong Kar Wai-like sensual slow-motion to heighten gesture and make us take a long hard look at these high-strung game players.

The viewer must be patient and wait for the second part when the film, in dealing with the repercussions from the narcissism of the first part, takes on depth. It is during the last twenty minutes that the actor/director succeeds in dealing with real emotions, not the imitation ones of the first half. Now a new tension sets in that builds to its vociferous climax where the actors are required to go beyond what they have demonstrated up to this point. Watching these neurotic Montréalians (when they finally grow up, they can be the manic-depressive characters in a Denys Arcand film), the viewer goes through the gamut of his or her own memories of attraction and rejection, bouncing around like the ping-pong balls that the expressive actors represent in their own attraction/flirtation/appeasement fluctuations. In fact, the more the film is watched with introspection, the more relevant it becomes.

Reviewed by winterhaze13 8 / 10

Xavier Dolan is a promising young film-maker

21-year-old Xavier Dolan is fast becoming the star of Canadian cinema. The Quebec prodigy stormed on to the international scene with his debut J'ai tué ma mere (I killed My Mother) winning three awards at Cannes last year.

His follow-up is Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats in English) and centres on a three-way love triangle. Dolan himself plays Francis, a gay Montrealer who becomes infatuated with a young socialite named Nicolas, played by Niels Schneider. Instantaneously, Francis' close friend Marie, played by Monia Chokri develops feelings of her own for Nicolas.

As the tumultuousness of love for Nicolas deepens for the two of them their close friendship begins to suffer. The two friends become embroiled in a struggle to please Nicolas who appears to represent Dolan's own ideal.

The theme of idealization is explored notably in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice which was made into a film by Luchino Visconti. There is a scene at a party where Marie envisions Michalangelo's David, the artist' own physical ideal when staring admirably at Nicolas.

Romantic obsession begins to take hold of the two friends as they vie for the affection of someone who will never return their love. Like in I killed My Mother, his follow up is about Dolan's struggling with his own homosexuality. The film is also a meditation on the senselessness of love and why its own madness is what makes it so appealing.

Dolan is undoubtedly a big talent. Monia Chokri who plays the muse of the film shines the brightest in front of the camera. Her archaic hairstyle and fashion sense would remind anyone familiar with French actress Anna Karina. And that provides a clue in who Dolan draws his cinematic inspiration from.

Three-way conflicts were a hallmark of Jean-Luc Godard and other new wave directors like Francois Truffaut. Dolan may have drawn his inspiration from Truffaut's own Jules and Jim. But Les Amours Imaginaires has many more references to Godard's early work.

Everything down to the scene settings, cultural references and camera shots are deliberately taken from Godard's early classics such as Breathless and Band of Outsiders. The characters too represent the remnants of the 1960s-style cultural rebellion that Godard's films often explored which still thrives in Montreal today.

One final stylistic note, the film also includes a roundtable of characters not related to the main story discussing relationships. Dolan manages to make it relevant to the story and continues the tradition set by Godard in Masculine Feminine. The third sequence however does run a bit too long.

Les Amours Imaginaires is already out on DVD in Canada. It will be released in theatres in the United States on February 1, 2011 so look out for it.

Reviewed by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx 10 / 10

Zany and fun, hymn to clueless yet flaming creatures

Young director Xavier Dolan's most recent feature was easily the find of the London Film Festival for me. Funnily enough I almost walked out, having come from an extremely dour realist movie (Mike Leigh's Another Year) and been presented with an extremely stylised and fairly ironic confection, and thus being quite dysphoric and skeptical. But it really blossomed out to superb effect. Some critical horses have baulked at the first fence though! The film concerns young love. The two leads of the story are both searching for perfect love and attempting to create the perfect personas to market themselves. Marie is just lovable, she creates this image where she dresses in vintage fifties clothes, with hair and makeup to match, sends letters in black envelopes addressed in gold glitter pen, she reads all the right stuff, including Quebecois poet Gaston Miron, to impress boys with her intellect. Her friend, rival and sometimes lover Francis (played by Xavier Dolan himself) is 5/6ths gay (by the Kinsey scale, which is mentioned in the film) and both are after the same man, Nicolas, who has blond curls and is straight out of an erotic dream of Cocteau (shots of Cocteau drawings are edited into the movie at one point).

Love here is all about style, our "heroes" turn up to only the most fabulous parties, where only exactly the right music plays, Moet flows generously and where only the beautiful people lounge. Have you money, looks, wit, are you fun, are you educated, these are the criteria for these young folk in their quest to get together. Although the alternate title to the film "Love, Imagined" is accurate in many respects, I think it underestimates the headiness and the glory of these admittedly judgemental and narcissistic love throes.

The soundtrack is mostly superb and will be finding its way to my MP3 player. One thing I would criticise though is the repeated use of Bach Cello Suites played over tepid love scenes, it just comes off as odd. Dalida's Italian language version of Bang Bang (... you shot me down) is also repeatedly played and works to much better effect. Favourite party music for me would be Exactement by Vive la Fête (lyrics repeat "Adorable Formidable").

I like the refreshing honesty with which people talk in the movie about love and rejection, one woman saying it takes her a year to get over, which sounds about right to me (coming up on 11 months myself, with the end in sight!).

Absolutely loved the ending when Nicolas walks up to Marie and Francis in the party, won't spoil it but I laughed a lot and had to suppress a whoop. Definitely a feel good movie despite subject matter that could be handled in a much more downbeat manner.

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