Programmed by Frédérick Pelletier
After requiring a heart procedure and spending four days in the emergency ward at Hôtel-Dieu hospital, Philippe Lesage decided to make a film there. Not because he wanted to reveal what we usually see in the media or on TV dramas, but because he was deeply touched by the dedication of the hospital employees who “never seem to sleep.” He spent several days filming inside Hôtel-Dieu. The result is a contemplative piece comprised of long takes showing something we never see: ordinary suffering and the work of the people who try to ease it.
A word from Tënk
If it first presents itself as an observational documentary of a Montreal hospital, the cinematic devices employed by The Heart That Beats take it entirely outside the realm of direct cinema. Philippe Lesage’s camerawork creates tension through the persistence of motionlessness and the duration of shots, rather than the quantity of material recorded. Lesage isn’t “covering” the situation through an accumulation of details; he is distilling the relationships between caregivers and patients by capturing their interactions almost in real time. His camera remains fixed, trained on the patients’ distress without turning away for even a second, and it’s as though we ourselves are unable to pry our eyes away from this all-too-human pain. Visually, there’s no escape from the penetrating frames that can sometimes feel almost cruel―as much for the spectator as for the subject, rendered as immobile as the camera on its tripod as it captures them. It is only the occasional and magnificent music of Schubert and Beethoven that allows us to pass through the real and submerge ourselves deeply and powerfully in emotion. both deep and strong, as it punctuates the film throughout. A tremendously effective film.
Filmmaker and programmer