‘Just a summer movie’

Heartbeats, the sophomore effort from Montreal’s Xavier Dolan, has already won prizes this year at film festivals in Cannes and Sydney. But at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, the Montreal movie-maker called his latest effort “just a summer movie.”

A scene from Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires)

A scene from Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires)

TORONTO — Heartbeats, the sophomore effort from Montreal’s Xavier Dolan, has already won prizes this year at film festivals in Cannes and Sydney.

But at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, the Montreal movie-maker called his latest effort “just a summer movie.”

“(It’s) a movie on love and heartbeats and the way we just deal with passion and romance and the way that we always have this fantasy of love more than a fantasy of a real relationship and real love,” said the director, sitting in a hotel room chair with his hair styled in his signature curly brunette pompadour.

With loads of artistic and slow-motion shots, vibrant lighting and slick vintage clothing and music, Heartbeats offers a visual feast.

The followup to his wildly acclaimed debut I Killed My Mother (J’ai Tue Ma Mere), the film stars Dolan and Monia Chokri as cynical, intellectual friends who fall for a vapid, blond heart-throb (Niels Schneider) at a dinner party. When their love interest invites them out for drinks, it ignites their desire for his affection.

While much has been made of the movie’s bold style, the director is quick to point out that “Heartbeats” is also a commentary on the sadness of unreciprocated love.

“People have said so much that this is a case of style over substance and have not understood what I tried to do,” said Dolan, who also wrote the film.

“Since I’m 21 years old, people will think . . . all that doesn’t respond to codes or rules are mistakes. But that’s not the case. For me, this film certainly lacks substance but for a good reason: what the characters fall for is an image and a shallow person, hence the movie is an image and a shallow movie. In my mind, that’s what I thought I would do.”