TIFF 2014: Heartbeat – Capsule Review

Director: Andrea Dorfman
Writer: Andrea Dorfman
Actors: Tanya Davis, Stephanie Clattenburg, Stewart Legere, Kristin Langille
Country: Canada
Runtime: 93 min
Rating: PG

Canadian director Andrea Dorfman returns with Heartbeat (2014), an eclectic maritime dramedy full of music. Justine (Tanya Davis) is an offbeat but sweet young lady who is stuck in a dead-end relationship and an unrewarding job. After making friends with lively drummer Ruby (Stephanie Clattenburg), Justine is inspired to rediscover her passion – music – and embarks on a clumsy yet genuine journey of self-discovery. Although the music is enjoyable and the movie means well, viewers may find the quirkiness of the characters and the frequent animation to wear thin by the film’s conclusion. Heartbeat is a film about nice people, from Justine’s friends to the owner of the local music shop, but these characters strike a few false notes. Davis presents an awkward but good-hearted twenty-something, and although she is an inexperienced actress, Davis has a lovely voice that provides the soundtrack to the film. Justine’s songs, appearing throughout the movie, are all performed by Davis, furthering the narrative and revealing the inner workings of this character’s mind. Although I was unable to fully buy into the characters and story, there were moments when I did enjoy viewing the world through Dorfman’s endlessly creative and eternally optimistic eyes. It is refreshing to see a film that is filmed and set in Canada, and even if one does not fully embrace the plot, it is still possible to enjoy the music put forth by a talented singer-songwriter and the vision of a veteran director.

Review Score: 6.8 / 10