Adapted from the best selling novel by Maylis de Kerangal, REPAIR THE LIVING tells the story of twenty-four hours in the life of two families, one completely shattered by the loss of their son, the other waiting for a heart saving. After death, it is life that needs to continue and even possibly repair for those who remain. A life to another through organ donation. Katell Quillévéré, who already has to his credit two very good films The violent poison and Suzanne, returns with a film of great strength. A film cathartic and stirring.
Simon has 17 years old. He loves Juliet, his buddies and go surfing. In the morning, he found his friends in their pickup truck after crossing the Harbour by bike, towards the sea. This could be filmed in real time, no matter, it was already switched to a countdown untenable, a race that is inevitable to the death, because here, no surprise, we know that we will not be able to reverse the course of things. We are from the outset embedded by each of the plans that we live in a way cathartic. The accident imminent gives each gesture a singular breadth and the director composes his film as a musical score that declines at the same time a kind of post-mortem of the events and interiority invisible to this that the characters live.
The first plans of Simon, literally, in the hollow of the wave are absolutely dazzling and beyond the beauty of the image (very nice work with the cinematographer Tom Harari), they are able to show a different depth, the one who lives in us and carries us away. The elements are indistinguishable (earth-bitumen and water) and eventually we aspire to as Simon. The alarm clock is hard for Marianne (Emmanuelle Seigner), the mother of Simon. Again Katell Quillévéré takes the time to explain to these minutes-there no ellipse possible.
Marianne rushes to the hospital, soon to be joined by Vincent, the father (Kool Shen). Simon is brain dead but his heart still beats. How, then, to accept that there is nothing left to hope for ? The film also tells of the work of doctors, nurses (Monia Chokri) and coordinators (here Thomas played by Tahar Rahim), their mission for the less delicate to announce the worst news parents can ever imagine. And then send to them to hear that the organ donation could save another life at the same time where it all collapses for them. Such moments are extraordinarily righteous and a sense of shame extreme. Marianne and Vincent find themselves and, in a very beautiful scene in the workshop of Vincent, while Marianne remains seated in silence, Vincent has worked in wood. They come back to the hospital, make their farewells to their son and accept the gift of organ. This chapter wraps up beautifully by the last words of the parents of Simon Thomas whispered in the ear while the sound of the waves accompanies him to leave for good. Have been captured.
The second part around the history of the recipient then begins, as another movement of this partition. Claire (Anne Dorval) is a disease of the heart that condemns it to certain death. His doctor (Dominique Blanc) persuades her to receive a new heart, but his balance is ultimately not the sign natural that his life should stop at the rhythm of his own heart withered ? Claire has two sons already grown up (Finnegan Oldfield and Théo Cholbi), a lover she no longer sees (Alice Taglioni more beautiful than ever) and her health forced him to leave his home to live in a parisian apartment. She is at the age where we are told that we are approaching its end and that it must be simply accept the move even though it is still early. How to live with the heart of a death ? Should we continue to live for ourselves or for those around us and love us ? As many of the questions that transpire behind the silences, the moments when one returns one last time to the place one leaves, the minute where we would like to embrace his son absent before the transplant, which may ring the death knell.
All the characters unfold in this story, not the second role, each connects us to each other like a canvas of solidarity which resembles the human chain implementation to save a life. The scenes where we follow the protocol, and the journey of the heart of Simon until the final operation is a hymn to humanity and to life in what it has of better. Katell Quillévéré chooses, moreover, to film the transplant on an almost documentary while extracting the pure magic of this operation, we approximate more and more nearly that which eludes us.
“The heart of the film is the question of the link between these individuals and how is this chain to prolong a life, to transform death. ”
– Katell Quillévéré
Its staging is in this very instinctive, she was married to the temporality of its characters. Everything is moving but nothing is rushed, the camera takes time to live with each protagonist to be, to embody, to be. Moreover, the filmmaker admits that in choosing its (wonderful) cast, she has spent time watching interviews of them to capture what was “real“ in them, behind the actors that they are. It is this material “real“ with which she composed, and which allows the film to be at once so just and so deep.
And then of course there is the crucial question of the gift, the gift of self, the donation of the organ. Katell Quillévéré does not avoid the legitimate questions that arise as to the identity, which is not avouable of the receiver, nor even that of the organs which are to be taken (“Not his eyes“, begs Marianne). I have a close friend who underwent the same operation two years ago. He wouldn’t be here today without this heart anonymous who now beat him. One thing is for sure, a transplant raises many questions but this is precisely where lies all the beauty of these stories : this gift, which binds us to never to other beings in a secret buried.
Anne Laure Farges
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