Don’t bother finding a pulse, there’s nothing here for “My Heart Can’t Beat.”
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this review. But I guess I’ll start here: I saw a trailer for a quiet little movie titled My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To (2020) back in April, and I thought to myself ‘What is this?’.
Well, past me–I can for sure tell you now. Nothing. It’s nothing.
Granted, I’ve spent far more time on worse films, but My Heart Can’t Beat… was a true disappointment in my unfortunate opinion.
Starring Patrick Fugit, Ingrid Schram, and Owen Campbell, the film tells the rather quiet and somewhat depressing tale of siblings Dwayne and Jessie, as they care for their younger brother, Thomas, who suffers from an unknown illness–but for arguments sake, let’s call it vampirism. The film graces over a 2-3 day period where everyone is tired of the current arrangement, but there are no solutions; so it becomes a cycle of murder, resentment, and an isolated feeling.
Each sibling plays their parts: Dwayne seeks out prey and kills them before bringing them home, so Jessie can drain them and give enough supply, so Thomas can survive until the next kill. It’s down to a science in the beginning, though, things take a turn very quickly.
Both Dwayne and Jessie in My Heart Can’t Beat dream of being free from their current situation and living their own lives, while Thomas just dreams of going outside and having friends. The main tension, however, is between Dwayne and Jessie, who resent one another with how each handles taking care of their brother and his need for literal blood. Dwayne carries a heavy dose of empathy for his victims and brother, while Jessie believes she can do it better herself, but only isolates both of her brothers further. Meanwhile, Thomas lives in a bubble with a childlike wonder, while his siblings treat him like either a fragile doll or a burden, and in my opinion–that never seemed fair to Thomas, who gradually gives off Nosferatu vibes as the movie progresses.
Throughout My Heart Can’t Beat, we watch Dwayne attempting to find little pockets of happiness until he takes pity on a potential victim that he leaves tied up in the family’s shed. Meanwhile, Jessie believes that Dwayne is slacking and kills the town prostitute, whom Dwayne was having a fling with, in order to prove herself capable. This is when things go downward with arguments, secrets, and feelings getting in the way of what needs to be done–and then the film just ends.
As an aspiring screenwriter, I genuinely felt that this premise of My Heart Can’t Beat had promise, but it fell flat. Patrick Fugit does his best to hold the movie together, but even after awhile, you want to b*tch slap his character into some other horrifying vampire film and watch his demise.
At a viewing of 1 hour and 30 minutes, My Heart Can’t Beat drags on WAY longer than it needs to, with an ending that seems almost incomplete in a way. My Heart Can’t Beat Until You Tell It To? I’d rather be dead, than have watched it.
And, here is the trailer for “My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To…”