Katell QuillévéréFrance / Belgium104 minutes2016ColourFrench
Ivory Coast-born filmmaker Katell Quillévéré adapts Maylis de Kerangal’s Booker Prize–longlisted novel for this elegant and affecting film which draws three seemingly unrelated stories together into a tale about the moment when tragedy meets hope.
Unintended consequence is the theme of this potent, pulsing drama, which draws seemingly unrelated stories together into a narrative about the moment when tragedy meets hope. Life's precariousness, its chance encounters, and the mysteries revealed by modern science all provide the foundation for Réparer les vivants. Director Katell Quillévéré brings both remarkable technique and sensitivity to this deeply moral, humanist tale, adapted from Maylis de Kerangal's novel Mend the Living, which was nominated for a Booker Prize.
The film begins in innocence as a French teenager leaves his girlfriend's apartment and joins his friends on a road trip to a seaside surfing spot. In another town, a woman receives the news that her heart condition has become more serious. Elsewhere, medical staff at a regional hospital work through the critical daily details of saving lives. These stories are destined to intersect, but not before we are led through a series of intense and carefully balanced scenes in which people are forced to deal with the unexpected. Estranged parents, families with secrets, and children hiding news from parents (and vice-versa) become the grist of this emotionally intelligent story.
For her third feature film — her first won the prestigious Prix Jean Vigo for best feature in 2010 — Quillévéré has taken on a psychologically complex tale and told it with both technical skill and attentiveness to the nuances of human interaction. Moving easily between scenes with great control and a powerful visual imagination, she transforms Réparer les vivants into a deeply moving experience.