Heartbeat ★★

I've been a fan of Andrea Dorfman for years. The Canadian director came out strong in the early 00s with two quirky, sexually subversive features that managed to be sweetly endearing instead of twee. However after her last film, Love that Boy, came out in 2003 there was a long period where Dorfman turned to animated shorts. It looked liked she had turned away from feature filmmaking until she announced Heartbeat, which played at TIFF in 2014, 11 years after her last film debuted.

Unfortunately Heartbeat feels like an extreme step back for Dorfman. The film follows hipster Justine who, after experiencing a panic attack at an open mic, loses her will to play music. After she watches her friend give birth she decides that a baby will help fulfill her and suggests to her ex-boyfriend, whom she is still occasionally sleeping with, that they try for one. Right before they have sex. Her ex is understandably freaked out and dumps Justine for good sending her in a tailspin where she re-embraces her music and hooks up with Ruby, a fellow musician. That relationship goes sideways too, but by that point in this meandering little movie its hard to care about either of those people.

The real problem with the movie is that Justine is completely unlikeable, and not unlikeable in the sense that she does bad things, or is a particularly bad person, but unlikeable in that she acts in a way that is truly bizarre that no functioning adult woman would act. Dorfman and Davis layer her with quirks that I imagine were supposed to endear her to the audience but come across as unjustifiably bizarre.

The techs on this are quite good for an indie film though and Dorfman retains the same visually quirky and interesting style that drew me to her a decade previous. There is also some hand-drawn animation that I was mixed on thrown in to illuminate the songs that are heavily featured in the movie.

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