There is nothing quite like falling in love for the first time. It’s an experience that is somehow both exhilarating and terrifying. You are trapped in a constant state of confusion and vulnerability, left wondering if that person feels the same way you do. In a Heartbeat is a new animated short film about a young boy who is still in the closet and tries to stop his lovesick heart – which has literally beaten its way out of his chest – from finding the boy he likes and revealing his true feelings for him. The film started as a college thesis at Ringling School of Art and Design, but it has quickly gone viral and been viewed over 14 million times in less than a week.
In a Heartbeat perfectly portrays the vulnerability that comes with falling for someone for the first time and how that already overwhelming situation can be even harder to handle for gay kids. Not only is the protagonist of the short fearful of being rejected by his crush, he is also afraid of the world discovering his secret and rejecting him for it. That is why he is so desperate to keep his heart hidden and he is forced to chase it down as it tries to make its way to his crush.
When his heart does make it to the boy he likes, the main character wants so badly to get it back that he ends up literally ripping his heart in half. He wants to be loved and he wants to be safe; he understands those impulses as existing in opposition.
The boy runs away humiliated, but his crush finds him and helps him put his heart back together. The main character is still nervous, yet he learns to accept his feelings and not be embarrassed by who he is. In a Heartbeat is a powerful and touching film that reminds us all of what it’s like to be young and in love and the painful, but ultimately freeing experience of letting your guard down for the first time.