A documentary by Annie Bradley and Jim Morrison. In English and French, with English subtitles. Rated PG
After a brief montage showing the courtship, marriage, and family growth of singers Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk over the past two decades, this unusual documentary plunks us right in the middle of a therapy session that doesn’t look too promising.
With a song-nodding title even more determinedly bleak than Wilco’s I'm Going to Break Your Heart doc, the film likewise centres on musicians who know better how to get into trouble than to get out of it. Here, the camera follows the Order of Canada–awarded pianist and guitarist Maida (who also fronts Our Lady Peace) to St-Pierre-Miquelon, a tiny, French-owned archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland, ostensibly to work on an album of new songs.
This Heart is fashioned to create a sense of immediacy, but an air of artificiality hangs over the proceedings, which find the songwriters sniping at each other over slights real and imagined, as well as where that chorus should go. That they composed their own doomy keyboard music to go with the finished film adds to a sense of posturing for effect, although the Leonard Cohen–tinged songs they craft on-screen carry more emotional weight than their arguments do. (She needles; he’s dismissive.)
Couples in the crowd can surely relate to their issues, which linger like the shadows of partially removed tattoos. Sometimes, the concerns are more immediate, as when Maida tacks out across a frozen pond. “I’ve had enough tragedy in my life,” she complains. “I don’t need you walking out on the ice.”
Still, it’s hard to avoid the sense that these married musos are hoping to create a spontaneous-seeming musical drama in the mould of Once. In fact, it’s closer to The Swell Season, a sad doc that followed Oncers Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová through their romantic death spiral. This one’s a tad more hopeful than that. (Hell, they have three almost-teen sons.) But you can’t help wishing they would learn to arpeggiate each other just a little bit more.