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Happy heartbeats

‘Heartbeats/Les amours imaginaires’

If you were utterly blown away by young gay French-Canadian filmmaker/writer/actor Xavier Dolan’s directorial debut “I Killed My Mother,” then you are certain to be happy to learn his talents are no fluke. His second movie “Heartbeats/Les amours imaginaires” is an equally original and engaging film.

The relationship of BFFs Marie, played by Monica Chokri, and Francis, a.k.a. Frankie (played by Dolan), is put to the test when they become involved in a potentially lethal romantic triangle with a self-satisfied blonde Adonis named Nicolas. Played by Niels Schneider, Nicolas is a country lad studying literature at McGill University and making his way in Montreal.

Both are appreciative of Nic’s attention and, at first, are unaware that he is pursuing each of them. The sexually ambiguous Nic is as at ease being physical with Marie as he is with Frankie. Despite maintaining sexual relationships with others, Frankie and Marie both have their hearts set on being the one to bed Nic and make him fall in love with them.

When the threesome leaves the city for the countryside, the tension is thick. After Nic feeds Frankie a roasted marshmallow in a sexually suggestive manner, things turn explosive. When Frankie attempts to prevent Marie from leaving in a huff, they end up slugging it out on the ground.

Once back in Montreal, Nic doesn’t return any of the numerous voice mail messages left for him by Frankie and Marie. When Nic and Frankie finally meet face to face, Nic is clearly perturbed that Frankie thought he was gay and misinterpreted his intentions. Even worse is the less-than-subtle way Nic embarrasses Marie when they see each other on the street.

A year later, Frankie and Marie have repaired the damage to their friendship when Nic shows up again at a party they are attending. But they have the final word. Or do they?

Dolan employs an interesting device throughout the film: A variety of people around the main trio’s age relate stories of romantic trauma. The use of this modern Greek chorus along with the dialogue spoken by Frankie, Marie and Nic combine to give the film a delightfully queer mumblecore feel.

Touching, funny and heartfelt, “Heartbeats” should appeal to everyone with a pulse.


With this debut as a writer/director, actor Josh Radnor does his best to enter Zach Braff/Miranda July territory. It’s an admirable goal and attempt.

Writer Sam, played by Radnor, is anxious to expand his short fiction repertoire to include novels. On the way to a meeting with a publisher he sees a little boy named Rasheen (Michael Algieri) get left behind on a New York subway car. Already running late for his appointment, Sam brings Rasheen with him. Utterly inexperienced in the guardian role, Sam stops in a bar to get Rasheen some water and experiences an immediate attraction to waitress Mississippi (Kate Mara), an aspiring cabaret performer.

Still unsure of what to do about Rasheen, Sam takes him along to a soiree at Annie’s (Malin Akerman). She’s thrown the party to explain her alopecia situation. While he’s there, Sam runs into an old friend whose boyfriend Charlie is in L.A. thinking about relocating, which is causing friction in the relationship.

There you have it. A cast of mildly interesting characters on a quest for meaning, fulfillment and direction. Rounding out the bunch is another Sam, this one a lawyer at the office where Annie works. Nothing would make the second Sam happier than for Annie to go out with him, but she’s too busy obsessing over Ira (Paul Scanavino), one of a long line of men who are bad for her.

“Happythankyoumoreplease” has its share of funny and touching moments. For the most part, the acting is decent (Algieri is especially enderaring), as is the writing and direction. What will Radnor come up with next? 

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