Heartbeats, also known as Les Amours Imaginaires, is a French film about two friends, straight woman Marie and gay man Francis, who fall in love with the same man, Nicolas. It’s not quite like any romantic film I’ve seen before, it’s beautifully directed and is quite interesting. On with the review!
So the film is very light to watch and it feels quite breezy, and I think this si too reflect the feelings of the main two characters. Marie and Francis are two attractive, stable people who meet Nicolas and both fall for him. We see how their friendship turns into a rivalry and their relationship soon turns bitter as they both believe that the other seeks to undermine their own pursuit of Nicolas. Nicolas himself never seems to prefer one over the other and on a first viewing you may think that he’s quite cruel to both of them, but on reflection, actually, the problem may be with Marie and Francis.
The thing that’s great about this film is that it leads us to mainly see things from Marie and Francis’ point of view, so when Nicolas seems to be distant and non-committal we feel the rejection just as they would feel it, and that leads us to empathize with them. However, when we actually think about it we see that the two of them projected their own feelings on to Nicolas, and although at first it’s Nicolas who seems to be selfish and only using them for amusement, it’s actually they who are narcissistic because they want him to be the object of their desire, and when he doesn’t reciprocate they become angry, and both blame the other when really there’s nothing they could have done about it.
I’m not sure that Nicolas was ever aware how the two of them felt about him, but there comes a point in the film where he sees how they’re acting and it prompts a feeling of revulsion. I’m certain that on some level he knew, and eventually he just tired of it. But the ‘love’ that Marie and Francis felt for him was a very selfish type of love and it was the sort of love where they only saw the qualities that were attractive to them and didn’t actually see him as a real person. They also tried to change themselves, for example Marie adapted a style that she thought he would like, but they were both motivated by jealousy.
The film was interrupted by a number of interview segments where people talked about deception in love and the pain of investing yourself in someone when they’re not as invested with you. The people in these segments aren’t involved in the main plot of the film, and sometimes they could be seen as taking you away from the main story but they also serve to add depth to the film and in the context I think they work. There are also some moments when the scene is bathed in red and blue and green lights, and everything slows to a crawl. These were very artistic and all the slow-motion helped to allow us to fall into the moment as much as the characters did.
I think the love in this film is a very shallow kind of love, and it’s a very human kind of love. It’s not a typical rom-com because there are it’s an awkward, sometimes ugly situation that feels all too real. No-one particularly covers themselves in glory but by the end of the film I think you realize that Marie and Francis aren’t necessarily the blameless victims that they feel themselves to be. It’s a mature look at the notion of love and I think a lot of people see love as something that happens to them, rather than something that is shared with someone else. But this doesn’t really occur to you as you’re watching the film, because it seems so light and breezy that watching it is effortless. It’s only when it finishes and you start thinking about it that you realize it actually works on a deep level.
I also want to talk about the music as well because it was amazing. The actual score was really nice but the songs used were brilliant, and they helped to provide an extra layer of context to the story. I really liked this film, I think it’s a good look at how people approach love and attraction and it will linger after you have watched it.