One family’s tragedy offers the hope of renewed life for another in this exquisitely modulated drama pivoting on the delicate advocacy of a hospital’s organ transplant team. Eschewing melodrama and sentimentality, director Katell Quillévéré evokes the momentous forces at play for each of the key participants with emotional clarity and weighs the transference of life in passages of sheer cinematic exaltation.
“What sounds like fodder for a routinely gripping episode of ER is complicated with rare depths of personal and sensual detail in French director Katell Quillévéré’s sublimely compassionate, heart-crushing third feature Heal the Living. More polished but no less authentically humane than her previous works Suzanne and Love Like Poison, this spidering ensemble piece – adapted from Maylis de Kerangal’s internationally acclaimed 2014 novel – boasts beautifully pitched performances from a handpicked cast that includes Tahar Rahim and Emmanuelle Seigner. But it’s Quillévéré’s soaring visual and sonic acumen (with an assist from composer Alexandre Desplat, here in matchless form) that suffuses a potentially familiar hospital weeper with true grace.
...Quillévéré’s filmmaking never presses its emotional buttons too hard, just as it never sweetens the pill with manufactured poignancy... [Tom] Harari’s perfectly poised camera, Thomas Marchand’s fluid editing and Desplat’s aforementioned score are tuned into the film’s feelings at every turn, as are Quillévéré’s frequently inventive soundtrack choices.”— Guy Lodge, Variety