4.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
It's extraordinarily rare to be able to watch someone blossom as a filmmaker while he also matures into an adult. That sounds more than a little condescending, but it's one of the many refreshing, organic joys of the work of Xavier Dolan, the 22-year-old Québécois wunderkind who with two films has exhibited more natural talent than a whole smattering of Hollywood directors. Inevitably (if a bit hastily), he's been likened to Truffaut, who, along with Godard, Wong Kar Wai and Gus Van Sant, has clearly influenced and informed his moviemaking. His youth has also drawn comparisons to Orson Welles, who so famously developed “Citizen Kane” at the tender age of 25. Perhaps the greatest thing about Dolan is he represents a rare and vital link between those who appreciate and emulate the earth-shaking artistry of early masters and those enamored of a culture that's younger, hipper and sexier. He's the necessary bridge over a filmic generation gap. “Heartbeats” (“Les Amours imaginaires”), Dolan's second feature as writer, director, producer and star, is a marked improvement over his first effort, “I Killed My Mother” (“J'ai tué ma mère”), itself enough to make him an instant sensation. His latest is a stirringly confident reflection of artistic and personal growth, and a fetching commentary on the anguish of desire.