At first glance, a hospital seems like an odd place to set an emotional drama. The clinical atmosphere lies in stark contrast to what might be expected of a multi-part drama about family and romantic relationships. But in Heal the Living, the hospital is a central theme, with the lives of characters relying on it throughout.
The film opens with a beautiful montage of teenager Simon and his friends surfing early in the morning. The scene is unsettling in retrospect after the accident which hospitalises Simon shortly afterwards, but in the moment it is fantastically shot and hypnotic, creating a great opening to a film that makes us think about the beauty of life that can be all too easily taken away.
The structure of Heal the Living follows three groups of characters: Simon and his family; Claire and her family, who live across the country and must deal with her heart disease; and the doctors dealing with them. Despite the barrage of medical vocabulary throughout that threatens to detract from the emotional situation, much of the film is surprisingly personable and warming, especially scenes where doctors take pains to keep their minds healthy against the stress of their environment. The film does jump rather jarringly from Simon’s narrative to Claire’s, however once we get to know this new situation and group of characters, the two are tied together in a moving resolution that features some very in-detail surgery shots. Squeamish members of the audience are advised to look away.
Heal the Living tells a weepy tale of those giving life to others in death. The procedural tone and detailed surgery shots may not be for everyone, but this is a simple and effective story of love between family, friends and strangers.
CAST: Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Dorval, Bouli Lanners, Kool Shen, Monia Chokri, Alice Taglioni, Karim Leklou, Alice de Lencquesaing, Finnegan Oldfield, Théo Cholbi, Gabin Verdet, Dominique Blanc
DIRECTOR: Katell Quillévéré
WRITERS: Katell Quillévéré, Gilles Taurand
SYNOPSIS: Heal the Living tells its story in three parts, with the hospitalisation of a French teenager affecting the lives of more than just his family.