Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 104 minutes
Stranger Says: Three boys drive along an open road. The road turns into ocean waves. One particularly huge wave crashes over them—and us. Darkness. We wake up from it, but Simon doesn’t. He’s brain-dead. What follows this surreal opening is a panoramic picture of the lives that remain: a girl he loved and his parents, for one. But for another: the recipient of his donated heart. And the woman she loves and her sons. Delicate scenes are sutured together moment-by-moment as characters endure loss and allow each other hope. Watch to feel your own heart opened. (JESSICA FU)
SIFF Says:Life and death, the two ideas that bracket the very idea of existence, both come mysteriously and unexpectedly. Katell Quillévéré’s latest film tells three stories woven together through an organ transplant: a teenager whose surfing trip ends disastrously, a woman who learns her heart is weakening, and two teams of doctors who struggle daily to save lives. Tragedy for one family means hope for another in this emotional odyssey, which revolves around the concepts of trauma, heartbreak, fate, and of course, life and death. The ocean, shown frequently throughout the film, acts as a visual metaphor for life, and perhaps its ability to be swept away so quickly. The film’s tenderness is emboldened by its heartrending score by Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech, The Imitation Game). Simple piano contrasts beautifully with dramatic crescendos, mirroring the fragility and enormity of what it means to be alive. Heal the Living is a film that acknowledges despair yet chooses optimism, and ultimately chooses life and beauty.