21 year-old actor-director Xavier Dolan returns to the festival circuit this year with his second feature, Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires). Set in Quebec, it follows the friendship of Marie and Francis and their infatuation with a mysterious newcomer, the cool and insouciantly handsome Nicholas. Opening with a recurring set of interviews with scorned young women, Heartbeats lays down a tone of 20-something sarcasm communicated through tongue-clicks, snide smirks and eye-rolls galore.
Bright young things jaded by love, Marie and Francis’ nervous, quick-fire word vomiting sessions are followed by artful moments of introspection. While their fluffed phone-calls and self-reproaches in mirrors are by no means original, the theatricality of their unlikely rivalry is refreshing. Making use of unusual angles and itchy-handed camerawork, Heartbeats overall aesthetic matches the tone of casual très cool. Beautifully shot with a striking yet limited palette, it hits all the notes of unrequited love to the tune of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) and Bach’s Suite No 1 on cello.