To say that Justine (Tanya Davis) is stuck in a rut would be an understatement. She hates her mind-numbing job as a data management copywriter; she can’t stop sleeping with her ex-boyfriend Ben (Stewart Legere); and not only does she live in her grandma’s old house, but she wears her granny’s old bras (Hey, they fit great). When things around her start to change – her best friend has a baby and Ben leaves town – she’s finally forced to deal with her attachment issues and find a way to move forward and define her own life.

In a series of amusing missteps (including trying to convince Ben to have a baby with her), Justine recognizes that she has drifted away from her true passion –  music – in part because of an embarrassing stage-fright incident in the past. Once she confronts her fears and reconnects with her music, however, the future suddenly seems full of possibilities – especially after she meets irresistible fellow musician Ruby (Stephanie Clattenburg).

Moving to its own laid-back rhythm and featuring director Andrea Dorfman’s delightful animation, Heartbeat has a vibrant, handcrafted quality. The director has consistently created funny, original, and heartwarming portraits of self-discovery, and she has an ideal collaborator in Davis (a poet and singer-songwriter in her first starring role), who imbues Justine with an awkward, wide-eyed honesty, not to mention a soothingly beautiful voice. With its richly drawn Halifax milieu filled with memorable characters, this is Dorfman’s most mature and accomplished work to date.

– Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo, Toronto International Film Festival

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