If you’re one to enjoy a good Rom-Com, but get sick of the almost invariable dumbed-down nature of such works, Beat Beat Heart is just your ticket. The very talented German director Luise Brinkman delivers a delightful, lighthearted film about love and longing that is just as thoughtful as it is funny, without getting overly sappy or forcibly dramatic. On top of that, there’s plenty of rich visual symbolism, the foremost of which may be a theater stage literally converted into a bedroom used by lovers (how much more direct can you get?). Another standout is the visualization of online dating as picking out trees in a forest. These sequences aren’t just a lot of fun, they gently impart another dimension to the storytelling in some very clever ways.
Lana Cooper stars as a young woman who splits her time in the present with her memories of her past boyfriend and the fantasy of a future where he returns – a highly unlikely event. Her mother, played by Saskia Vester, appears on her doorstep, having just had her own boyfriend abruptly end their relationship. What follows is a study in desire and regret played out by a wonderful ensemble cast. Half of the characters are trapped in the amber of wishing for a different reality, while the other half discovers liberty living in the now. The backdrop of the whole tale is set in a home eternally being remodeled, fortifying the idea that relationships are a constant work in progress, never truly finished. The house is also nestled in a stunningly beautiful countryside – one loaded with mosquitos. “There’s always an itch somewhere,” Ms. Vester’s character remarks on a date. Indeed, there is, right?
What makes Beat Beat Heart such a refreshing departure from many films in the genre is Ms. Brinkman’s handling of the tale and its population of confused lovers is the rich thoughtfulness she affords to the work. There’s no easy resolutions here, nor are there any devastating truths for sale. The old adage that every story ends in death or marriage is openly defied here. Like the house – it’s always a work in progress. And that’s OK. The journey is more valuable than destination, after all. And if there is any big takeaway it comes in the form of one line: “Yearning stops you from being free.” So don’t go wishing for this film to be a neat little package. Jump into it and run free through the ups and downs of life, handled with great care by a great cast and crew.