Les Amours Imaginaires – Review

by theappliedprocess

Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats as it is known this side of the border) is the latest endeavor of Quebecois boy wonder Xavier Dolan. It is the story of two friends, Francis (Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri), who fall in love for the same blonde next door socialite of ambiguous sexuality, Nicolas, played by Niels Schneider. Without giving much of the film’s plot, as both friends fall deeper and deeper, this infatuation creates a strain on their friendship with each other, as well as their own personal self discovery.

Overall, the film is very entertaining and easy on the eye. I enjoyed it. However, upon post-film scrutiny, I did have a few issues with the way Dolan filmed it, and the tricks he used to make it subconsciously appealing. For example, there were a handful too many slow-mo scenes. I’ll be the first to say it: who doesn’t enjoy a good slow-mo scene with a superb soundtrack on the background? Guilty. But when they are as numerous as they are in this case, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe Dolan, at his tender age of 22, might be a bit unexperienced to have more tricks up his sleeve.

Another matter that caught my eye (literally) was the color contrast and the intense hues used in anything from the sets to the wardrobe. Again, brilliant when used sparsely, which he failed to do. It reminded me of A Single Man, by freshman director Tom Ford, who also might’ve indulged himself a bit much in doing so. The technique works. And it works best when edited properly.

Props go to Monia Chokri, who is unbelievably attractive despite her “sad girl hopelessly looking for love and validation from men” demeanor. She looks ravishingly sexy in her 1960’s vintage outfits, makeup, and hair, and her je ne sais quoi attitude.  She manges to outshine both her costars. A complete standout.

The soundtrack itself was beautifully curated. From the trailer track Bang Bang by Dalida, to the upbeat Belgian party tune Exactement by Vive La Fête, to the hauntingly exquisite sounds of Fever Ray’s Keep the Streets Empty for me, it stands out on its own as well as compliments each scene entirely.

The film definitely deserves praise, as it has already received it, but not with a blind eye. Dolan is young, and there is no doubt he has talent. Talent that will surely get fine tuned with experience and time. I’ve yet to watch his directorial debut J’ai tué ma mère, which has also been highly celebrated, and thanks to Heartbeats I’m intrigued. I will definitely be adding it to my netflix cue (when it becomes available).