Heartbeats & Something Borrowed
by M. Faust
Do young people still fall in love with the movies? They do in Montreal, home of Xaviar Dolan, who was 20 when his first feature, I Killed My Mother, garnered attention on the festival circuit. A year later he’s back with Heartbeats, a mostly comic film about frustrated young swains that wears its maker’s affection for the arthouse on its sleeve.
At a party, vintage fashion buff Marie (Monia Chokri, who looks like a young Wendie Malick) and her gay best friend Francis (played by the writer-director) are indulging in their favorite game of sneering at people when both spot the new boy in town, Nico (Niels Schneider), whose puppydog eyes and butterscotch curls send both into a silent swoon. “Who’s the Adonis?” Marie quips, trying to cover her instant lust with sarcasm, but we’re not fooled.
The bulk of the film traces their separate efforts to set a seductive snare for Nico, who remains maddeningly aloof, open, and loving to both but not to the degree either wants. Is he straight, gay, both, neither? It would be beneath either Marie or Francis to ask, let alone make a pass that might be rejected, and their increasingly desperate efforts to maintain their cool exteriors while throwing themselves at Nico (not to mention blocking each other’s ploys) provide the movie’s comic steam.
But what makes Les Amours Imaginaires (its superior original title) so dreamily watchable is Dolan’s rifling through the styles of his favorite filmmakers. Most of the movie could have come from France circa the early 1960s, somewhere between Godard and Truffaut; but Dolan also knows his Wong Kar Wai and his Almodovar, and probably his Woody Allen as well. It’s a perfect film for a sunny spring afternoon, should we be so lucky to have one this weekend.
On the other side of the rom-com spectrum is Something Borrowed. Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene from HBO’s Big Love) stars as Rachel, an unhappily single Manhattan lawyer who celebrates her 30th birthday being one-upped by her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). The tables are turned when Rachel spends the night in bed with Darcy’s fiancé, Dex (played by Colin Egglesfield, who appears to be 80 percent Tom Cruise and 20 percent Will Arnett).
But here’s the thing: Seems Rachel and Dex knew each other first as law students, but were never able to confess their mutual attraction. Now that they have, how are they going to tell Darcy?
Why they would even care is only the first of many unanswerable questions, given that Hudson plays the role like someone you would find rushing the bar for last call at a Cheektowaga bowling alley. Goodwin’s likeability is wholly wrong for her character, and the plot lurches along as if the script were written by improv comedians forced to work in weird suggestions from the audience. Among its other faults (it’s at least a half hour too long), Something Borrowed deserves some kind of award (call it the Friends Trophy) for least plausible use of Manhattan.
Watch the trailer for Heartbeats
Watch the trailer for Something Borrowed
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