"Ler Amours Imaginaires" is very much like its blonde seducer: the best way to enjoy it is to surrender yourself to it, follow its rhythm. It's not one of the easiest movies to review, because there aren't plenty of things to write about.
Oh, yes, one more thing, again, this doesn't follow a traditional narrative and the main characters might annoy people in need of a more traditional setup, so, yes, if you are not a cinephile and/or if you don't find the main characters to your liking, chances are you're not gonna like this flick. And if you are a lesser critic with a high sense of self-importance, you will give this flick a negative review and join the herd who wonders why such films are being made or promoted.
Overall, I am giving this 4 out of 5(actually it would be more like 3,75 out of 5, because sometimes the pace is too slow for the film's own good)
The second film by blossoming French-Canadian auteur Xavier Dolan (who was 21 at the time of releasee), "Heartbeats" is a stylishly shot art film reminiscent of the works of Wong-Kar Wai and the barren discontent of Woody Allen's "Interiors", featuring just as much of a glistening sheen as a flavorful emotional smorgasbord. Perhaps Dolan's stylistic tendencies can be tiresome - his heavy use of slow-motion is at first thrilling but becomes decrepit as it keeps reappearing - but there is no denying his youthful, cinephilic wisdom. Like Tarantino, we can tell that we're watching the work of a filmmaker who grew up on movies, not a grizzled money churner who hardened during film school.
In addition to writing and directing, Dolan also stars as Francis, a young man who, along with his best friend, Marie (an excellent Monia Chokri), finds himself carnally consumed with Nicolas (Niels Schneider), a charismatic moppet they stumble across at an acquaintance's party. For the first act of "Heartbeats", the three forge a close bond lined in prominent sexual tension - but as it dissolves and the conclusion of the film draws near, Nicolas loses interest in his new pals, while they, in turn, remain damaged by his ethereal appeal.
Such entanglements can be treacherous. Marie is a woman completely unaware of who she is, habitually dressing like a character from "Mad Men" because she doesn't know how to be herself; Francis, a sensitive homosexual, takes the world too seriously - to him, a simple "I love you" means permanent adoration, not passing affection. So when Nicolas, wily and charming, takes advantage of them, possibly knowing of their vulnerabilities, it sends them over the edge, both so positive in their idolization that they confuse infatuation with an actual returned love.
"Heartbeats" is too subtle to outrightly say what it's trying to say - it's such a character study it would rather watch its characters than explain them. But its constant understatement is only highlighted by Dolan's sure-fire style; the film, in turn, becomes intoxicating, so wholly potent in its style that the melodramatic content is underlined. We are persistently transfixed, only lapsing in bewitchment when Dolan turns back to slow-motion again.
But "Heartbeats" is only slightly flawed, a massively fascinating work from an auteur still learning what kind of auteur he wants to be. Dolan is a thoughtful writer and an appealing actor - and with his considerable editorial and directorial talents, it won't be long before he reaches standards set by other French greats like Claude Chabrol or Louis Malle.