A single devastating event intertwines inextricably the lives of an unfortunate teenager, a weary woman with a critical degenerative heart condition and a team of compassionate doctors; all perfect strangers, perfectly interconnected.
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Sidse Babett Knudsen,
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Early in the morning three surfers draw out to sea to brave the waves. On the road they get an accident. The nineteen-year-old Simon Limbres transported to the hospital in a comatose state, where the doctor finds that his brain is dead. He is kept alive by machines. His parents must quickly make a difficult decision about possible organ donation. Written by
This is a film about hearts, but not in the way films usually treat this subject. It's not about lonely hearts, or hearts on fire, or hearts going out to someone, but real hearts. The powerful muscle that pumps blood through the body. I can't remember ever having seen a heart, but in 'Réparer les vivants' it's shown in all its glory. It looks quite different than I thought it would, by the way.
The story is simple. A car crash leaves seventeen year old Simon brain dead, and his devastated parents decide his organs can be transplanted. Because of this decision Claire, a mother of two boys Simon's age, is saved from a certain death.
The events are shown as they are. We see the grief of Simon's parents when they hear of his fate. We see their doubts about the organ transplant. We see how difficult it is for the doctor to inform them about the possibilities of organ donation. We see Claire's reluctance to receive a new heart. We understand why she doesn't want to tell her son what is going on. We also see the concentration of the medical team during the two operations - one to remove the heart and one to replace it.
In the film, the emotions speak for themselves. They are powerful enough not to need any additional effects. No side stories, no cheap metaphors, no heavy dialogue spelling it all out. For example, we never hear how Simon's parents come to their decision. We see them grieve together, and then tell the doctor they agree.
The last part of the film, showing the operations, is very powerful. Director Katell Quillévéré shows it in an almost documentary style. The transplant centre where hearts, livers and lungs are being distributed as if they were ordinary merchandise, the ice box in which the heart is transported (by a small airplane) and the operation itself, which gives the viewer a unique view into the human body.
'Reparer les vivants' is not a tearjerker in the traditional way: there are no cheap emotional effects. But it's full of genuine emotions, beautifully filmed, which might have a tear inducing effect.
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