A synopsis can sometimes do a film no favours and describing the story in Katell Quillévéré’s third feature would bring to mind any number of hospital dramas. The key to the film’s power lies in the Quillévéré’s execution: finding the small moments of humanity amongst the enormity of the situation the characters face. It’s life and death, but not as the movies know it.
Adapted from an acclaimed novel by Maylis de Kerangal, Heal The Living introduces Simon (Gabin Verdet) climbing out of his girlfriend’s bedroom window to catch the early morning tide with two surfing friends. In strictest terms, he’s travelling through the night to stand in the sea on a slab of polyurethane, but it’s his passion for the surf that Quillévéré captures (through some quite breath-taking underwater and in water photography). Just hours later, Simon is declared brain dead after a severe car crash and his parents Marianne and Vincent (Emanuelle Seigner and Kool Shen) must decide whether to donate their son’s organs. There’s no extra special reason why we’re meant to care about Simon but we do care, simply because he was killed doing what he loved on the cusp of the prime years of his life.