By: Trevor Chartrand
I’m Going to Break Your Heart is an observational documentary that explores the relationship between Canadian indie-rock legend Raine Maida and his Juno-Award winning wife Chantal Kreviazuk as they collaborate on their first album together. The couple struggles as all couples do, with the added challenges and frustrations of working together to create art as a team.
This film has a promising beginning, offering an incredible opportunity for viewers to peek behind the curtain and witness some great creative minds at work. However, the finished film feels more like an advertisement for their album than a true look at their relationship or the collaboration behind the music. I would recommend this film as an accompaniment to the album, or perhaps as an extra feature on a concert DVD, but as an in-depth documentary with character and authenticity, I’m Going to Break Your Heart ultimately fails.
The number one issue with this film is a lack of authenticity, especially from the documentary subjects. To their credit, Raine and Chantal are very transparent; we do see their arguments and disagreements, and we even see them in sessions of couple’s therapy. The problem is that they always seem very aware of the cameras, almost to the point where they are playing to them. I don’t doubt that they mean what they say, but the events in the film feel dramatized or heightened, even if it’s on a subliminal level. The subjects of this doc are all too aware they are being filmed, and it effects their behavior on screen.
The film is well shot, but the cinematography also gives away the fact that we’re a far stretch from verité cinema here. The film offers a ‘fly on the wall’ observational feel – but looking closer, it’s clear that things may be more choreographed than they seem. When Raine and Chantal argue, for example, there are many angles of coverage, to the point where I have to wonder if these arguments aren’t staged or done in multiple takes. For some sequences the filmmakers would have needed at least four cameras running simultaneously to get the angles they have; and based on those angles, we should be able to see the other cameras in frame. So at some point, someone cut the action and changed the setup before continuing with the scene. When that happens, this film can barely be called a documentary any more than a staged production – which again makes me question if this is more of an advertisement than an actual film.
Whatever the filmmaker’s intention were, the music in the film is great, at least. Fans of these musicians won’t be disappointed by the songs – in fact, the music is almost a character in itself. It’s interesting to hear the tracks develop throughout the film, culminating with the titular song, “I’m Going to Break Your Heart”. As layers are added to the music, the songs evolve and develop in more ways than Raine and Chantal ever do, unfortunately.
While I’m Going to Break Your Heart is an entertaining look at songwriting and music production, the overall film feels more like a fluff piece than a true documentary. It’s an easy watch and highly recommended for fans of the musicians featured – just don’t expect a whole lot of insight into they are beyond a bickering couple.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor