Ambient, unique tale about – literally – a heart.
* * *
Even more than 21 Grams, Heal The Living is the story of a heart transplant, and, uniquely to my knowledge, the protagonist is a human heart. It starts in one body and moves to another, and we are witness to its journey, which is fascinating, involving, as it does, not only ambulances and doctors, but ice-packs, police escorts, agencies, and serious emotional dilemmas. The film is an eye-opener if nothing else.
The procedure itself is fully rendered, to the extent that I wondered if the film’s director Katell Quillévéré had found an operation to film first and a subject and story second (I have no doubt we are seeing a real heart in a real procedure). But the film is based on a novel, by Maylis De Kerangal, so that particular chicken did come before the egg.
The film’s structure is very satisfying, even as it leaves the viewer without an entire lead human being to follow. Despite the highly emotive subject, the film has an emotional distance, which Quillévéré fills with long, poetic imagery set to intense, trance-like music. At times it strains a little too hard, but generally, and especially amongst the performances, there is clarity, precision and taste. I suspect that if you’ve ever given or received an organ you’ll find the film respectful and rewarding.