Beat Beat Heart
Slamdance Film Festival
Director: Luise Brinkmann
Set in the breathtaking German countryside, loner and dreamer Kerstin (Lana Cooper) is found carelessly falling asleep on the train tracks, waiting for her lover, Thomas (Till Wonka), to reappear. However, reality comes calling when her mother, Charlotte (Saskia Vester), shows up at her doorstep with a large suitcase and no intentions of leaving anytime soon, much to Kerstin’s chagrin. Charlotte is immediately welcomed by Kerstin’s promiscuous roommate, Maya (Christin Nichols), in the bathroom, after Maya has just finished having sex with a random man she found on the dating app Finder (pronounced like Tinder).
While Maya is busy with her many dates, Kerstin continues working on a project that will seemingly never be completed: restoring a part of her house that used to be a theater. She enlists the help of her attractive neighbor Paul (Aleksandar Radenkovic) and his girlfriend Franzi (Caroline Erikson), and the group makes the stage into a makeshift room for Charlotte. Maya introduces Charlotte to Finder, and Charlotte resolves to stop checking her phone to see if her ex-boyfriend has called, while true romantic Kerstin is somewhat annoyed at her mother’s dating habits. As Charlotte gets further into online dating, Kerstin becomes closer to Paul, and her memories of Thomas start to fade from the idealized, romantic lover to the reality of the man who spurned Kerstin for being too dependent on the relationship.
The way the movie portrays how a person heals from a heartbreak is very creative, especially in that it shows both Charlotte and Kerstin struggling to heal in their closed-off, small-town setting. While Charlotte finds a newfound freedom in entering the online dating scene at her age, Kerstin comes to realize that her memories of Thomas are somewhat false, as she has romanticized him too much in her head, believing him to be a soulmate. Brilliantly, she is shown having these memories mostly when she hangs out by the train tracks, subconsciously hoping that he will arrive on the next train while giving a sense of being left behind. As she tries to focus on healing herself, she starts to see the same pattern of her relationship happening to Paul and Franzi, which helps her to slowly stop idealizing her last relationship, and also bring her closer to Paul.
The metaphor of the theater, with its romantic charm but its rundown interior, conveys a feeling that love is able to happen if work is put in—and Paul and Kerstin are the ones who work on it the most throughout the film. While they joke that they are only going to play horror/slasher genre films in the theater, they eventually decide that they will play romantic movies on the screen as well. Even the way the dating app Finder is portrayed is quirky and imaginative: Maya and Charlotte jog through a forest and come upon a thicket of trees with different potential dates leaning on them, and the two tap the shoulder of the dates they are interested in. The movie also gets into the characters’ motivations and backstories without giving too much detail, letting the viewer decide what the underlying causes for each person’s heartbreak may be. Beat Beat Heart is a beautifully painful reminder that heartbreak is real and happens to everyone, but that everyone can heal from it, no matter their age or place in life. –Ali Shimkus