TIFF Kids 2017: Our Review of ‘Heartstrings’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF Kids 2017 by - April 06, 2017
TIFF Kids 2017: Our Review of ‘Heartstrings’

Hi, I’m Paolo and I will being saying bad things about a movie about a different abled girl. So I am going to hell, but as we descend there let’s talk plot. Michel Boujenah’s Heartstrings is about 12-year-old Marie (Alix Vaillot), a French girl who tries to hide her degenerative eye disease. Despite that she’s a upper class cellist with a lot of potential. She’s the polar opposite of her classmate, Victor (Jean-Stan Du Pac), delinquent and straight F student. I’m trying to figure out the power dynamic between these two because some people can misconstrue that aspect.

This is not a typical film about a boy using a girl with a disease to push the boy’s story. I do feel that in their friendship and romance, Marie and Victor’s flaws and strengths cancel each other out. The problem, however, lies in the supporting characters. There’s a shoehorned child who is Victor’s best friend who spurts out too many catchphrases. The adult characters are either useless or mean, especially Marie’s father who wants her institutionalized. Just like her, Victor has his own old baddies. His teachers constantly berate him to an extent that I’ve never seen before, and I went to a bad school.

The leads’ encounters with the adults left such an irrecoverably bad taste in my mouth. Fraught relationships like the ones need set-up and nuance and we never get that here. The film mishandles Marie’s storyline, unable to find the middle ground between light and serious. What ends up on screen is a tonally inconsistent and borderline twee depiction of how she deals with different ability. The film assumes that we’ll just believe that Victor doesn’t fit in with the education system. We never see the devolution of the good intentions turning into bad, destructive actions.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.