Emanuel spends his days at a sanatorium. Falling in love with another patient, he narrates his and his fellow patients' attempts to live life to the fullest as their bodies slowly fade away, but their minds refuse to give up.
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"Scarred Hearts" is inspired by Romanian author Max Blecher's novel, which is set in 1937. It centers on Emanuel, a man in his early 20s, who spends his days at a sanatorium on the Black Sea coast, suffering from bone tuberculosis. Falling in love with another patient, he narrates his and his fellow patients' attempts to live life to the full as their bodies slowly wither but their minds refuse to give in. Blecher wrote the text, hailed as a masterpiece on publication in Romania in 1939, as autobiographical notes before he died, after 10 years of suffering, at the age of 29.Written by
Luminously photographed by Marius Panduru in the now unfashionable Academy ratio, Romanian director Radu Jude's superb new movie "Scarred Hearts" is based on the writings of Max Blecher and deals with the time he spent in a sanatorium on the Black Sea. The year is 1937 and Blecher's alter-ego is Emanuel, suffering from Pott's Disease, a form of TB. Though not an asylum, the hospital is something of a madhouse. Operations are performed with the minimum of anaesthetic, if any, and the doctors have no qualms in telling the largely manhandled patients exactly what's wrong with them and everything, including sex between the patients, seems to be permitted. Emanuel suffers more than most but bears it all stoically, even managing to fall in love with a former patient, and there is a good deal of humour in the film. Lucian Teodor Rus, making his screen debut, is excellent as Emanuel, even if he does spend most of the film on his back and Serban Pavlu is superb as his doctor. I'm sure for many people a two and a half hour film about illness might seem something of an endurance test but Jude makes even the grimmest passages seem somehow life-affirming. A wonderful picture.
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