Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Les Amours Imaginaires: Xavier Dolan, boy genius

I've just come out of the equally inspiring, mind-blowing and utterly depressing filmic experience that was Les Amours Imaginaires (English/American title: Heartbeats), the 2nd feature-length film project of Xavier Dolan, 21-year-old French-canadian director/actor/writer/prodigy. Why depressing? Oh, just because Dolan wrote his first screenplay at the ripe old age of 17. He put the film (J'ai tué ma mère, 2008) into production two years later, and was subsequently recognized with an 8-minute standing ovation at the 2009 Cannes film festival and nominated for best foreign film both at the Oscars and the Césars. Though I haven't seen Dolan's debut film, I'm really looking forward to it if Les Amours Imaginaires is anything to go by. Putting his own unique twist on the tongue-in-cheek Nouvelle Vague-inspired concepts of jump-cuts, black comedy and brash primary-colored landscapes, Dolan paints a gorgeously refined (if nearly impossible to understand without subtitles, even for the French, à cause de l'accent quebecois), hilarious portrait of a twisted love triangle-- that of Francis and Marie, two best friends who fall for the same unattainable golden god, Nicolas. Dolan himself, adorable in Montreal-hipster attire (including but not limited to bleached oversized denim jackets, bright pink skinny jeans and skeleton-painted fingerless gloves) and the James Dean-esque haircut that every young lad below 14th street seems to be sporting nowadays, plays Francis, while Monia Chokri, in attire that floats somewhere in the region between 50's housewife and Audrey Hepburn, plays his best friend, Marie. Then there is the gorgeous Niels Schneider as Nicolas, the object of their affection, who seems to seduce everything that moves. Don't discount the beginning of the film as pretentious or "faux-indie"-- yes, Tarantino did use that song in Kill Bill; yes, Gus Van Sant already coined the "frozen snapshot" style of shooting sex scenes in My Own Private Idaho,yes, we've already seen the 2-guys-one-girl-ambiguous-sexuality-waking-up-in-bed-together-jealousy-etc scenario in Bertolucci's The Dreamers-- just keep watching and you may fall in love; or better yet just come out of the theater with a new knowledge of Quebecois slang... (par exemple, "Le shmoke cache le marde!"). That having been said, the self-admittedly "hysteria-worshipping" Dolan completes the package with a killer soundtrack, stunning cinematography and a gripping and ultimately hilarious plotline (oh, and a guest appearance by the one and only Louis Garrel!) Dolan's next project, Laurence Anyways, about a transsexual, is slated for 2012. And he's only 21... bon courage!

Monia Chokri (apparently one of Dolan's best friends in real life) as Marie

Xavier Dolan as Francis (I wasn't lying about the clothes...)

hmmm where have I seen this image before?

the director/actor/writer at work

and the trailer, of course:

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