Film Review: Heal the Living

It’s becoming more difficult by the day to find good in the world as everything seems to be going to Hell in a handcart. It’s easy to overlook every day acts of kindness when we’re bombarded with negative news 24 hours a day. Cinema has the ability to be introspective and focus on the beauty, fragility and impermanency of life. This is exactly what Katell Quillévéré does to devastating effect in her new film Heal the Leaving.

Three young surfers have a crash on the way home from an early morning trip to the coast. Simon (Gabin Verdet) falls into a coma from which he will never escape. His parents (Emmanuelle Seigner and Kool Shen), in their grief, have to make the difficult decision regarding organ donation. They are helped through the process by the hospital staff, led by the chief surgeon (Bouli Lanners) and medical specialist (Tahar Rahim). Claire (Anne Dorval), who has a degenerative heart defect and is awaiting a transplant, worries about her teenage sons Sam (Théo Cholbi) and Maxime (Finnegan Oldfield).

Heal the Living is a surprisingly gripping, immensely touching and disarmingly emotive film. There are three distinct, yet interlaced, stories within Quillévéré’s opus. What is consistent throughout is a strong seam of humanity. It’s what happens within these spheres which makes it stand-out. There’s a sumptuous soundtrack from Alexandre Desplat which sets the scene beautifully, and the organ donation process itself it’s surprisingly fascinating. The devil and delight is in the detail. Awe, wonder, fragility and grief all collide to make Heal the Living a profoundly powerful and tense drama.

Heal the Living is out in cinemas from Friday.

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