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CANNES 2024 Competition

Review: Beating Hearts


- CANNES 2024: Despite its energy, the step of the Cannes competition was way too high to reach for Gilles Lellouche with his very kitsch film of love and violence full of clichés

Review: Beating Hearts
François Civil and Adèle Exarchopoulos in Beating Hearts

“There’s the world you hope for when your eyes are closed, and the one that’s here when your eyes are open”. These words gleaned at some point in the hectic 166 minutes of Beating Hearts by Gilles Lellouche could very easily apply to the spectacle of this overflowing and overloaded film, thinking itself flamboyant but in reality only putting on boldness with naive lead soles and an advertising aesthetic. This fireworks display with a €35 million budget is the opposite of finesse and will undoubtedly find its audience thanks to a fittingly aggressive marketing campaign, but it would have been much more reasonable not to launch it in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival where even if masters of cinema can sometimes get tired, a certain artistic excellence is still de rigueur.

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Frenetically attempting to mix together in a post-modern shaker a social classes version of Romeo and Juliet, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, Michael Mann’s Heat, Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter as well as Wild at Heart by David Lynch, Beating Hearts ultimately is more akin to Johnny Halliday’s late period and somewhat cheesy rock song Allumer le feu. This pyrotechnical intention that doesn’t lack energy and rhythm is used to tell a love story unfolding over about 20 years, but by never stepping off the emotional gas pedal and allowing himself the most nonsensical visual effects, Lellouche makes going off road a constant threat, in a procession of loud clichés that the actors (Adèle Exarchopoulos, Mallory Wanecque, Malik Frikah, Alain Chabat, Karim Leklou, Raphaël Quenard) have to handle as best as they can.

The story? Nothing too complicated. As teenagers, it’s love at first sight for good little girl Jackie and bad boy Clotaire (kind although he has a severe tendency towards violence): freeze-frames, slow motion, the world around them disappearing, they dance, they love each other like in a classic photo-book transformed into a surcharged music video. But the weight of social fatality in their late 80s harbour town and the criminal world that sucks in Clotaire will drive them apart. Ten years later, he gets out of jail and they had never forgotten about each other…

Crushed in particular by its score, Beating Hearts can nevertheless boast a certain suicidal panache and a few good ideas within its raging flood of kitsch and caricatures, valiantly (or unconsciously) owning up to all its excesses and its facile morality. “You are as beautiful as you are ugly, but you’ve let ugliness win”, Jackie tells Clotaire. She will be the judge of his beauty, since love is after all blind, but the rest is sadly true, and could apply to this baffling selection for the race to the Palme d’Or while another section would have undoubtedly protected, at least to an extent, this film that isn’t dishonourable but whose ambitions are completely disproportionate.

Beating Hearts was produced by Trésor Films and Chi-Fou-Mi Productions, and co-produced by France 2 Cinéma, Cool Industrie, Pictanovo and StudioCanal (who also handles international sales), as well as by Belgian outfit Artémis Productions.

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(Translated from French)

Photogallery 24/05/2024: Cannes 2024 - L'Amour ouf

34 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

Gilles Lellouche
© 2024 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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