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HEARTBEAT DETECTOR

Director: NICOLAS KLOTZ

FRANCE • 2007 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 143 MIN


THERE ARE STRONG ECHOES OF MICHAEL HANEKE AND JEAN-LUC GODARD IN THIS MESMERISING NEW FRENCH THRILLER, WHICH STARTS AS A PORTRAIT OF CORPORATE RIVALRY, AND ENDS UP BY SUGGESTING THAT THE DEHUMANISATION OF LANGUAGE ITSELF—A PROCESS TRACEABLE TO THE HOLOCAUST—IS CONTRIBUTING TO MODERN SOCIETY’S ENDEMIC MORAL DRIFT.
Nicolas Klotz’s third feature is unapologetically a film of ideas, and a provocative one at that, yet it’s put together with cool control which gets the most out of its thriller motifs and excellent cast. An on-form Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) is the company psychologist for the petrochemical giant SC Farb who’s initially called in by vice-president Jean-Pierre Kalfon to assess the mental health of president Michel Lonsdale, a man spending too much time alone in his car listening to Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’. The shrink, whose job usually involves turning junior execs into financial stormtroopers, realises the latter hasn’t been the same since the break-up of his in-house string quartet, whose fractious members turn out to share shadowy family backgrounds leading back to the dark days of WWII. Punctuating the thread of revelations with musical sequences (flamenco, fado, techno) which comment on the onslaught of cultural mechanisation, Klotz’s film could seem as if it’s making quite outrageous connections between the Nazi era and the machinations of contemporary globalisation, yet as we follow Amalric’s tortured realisation of his own complicity in the soulless landscape of brutal restructuring and incessant productivity requirements, there are certainly unexpected resonances. It all makes for compelling, uneasy, yet worthwhile viewing, and clearly announces the arrival of a major new talent on the European cinema scene.—Trevor Johnston.PATRONS, PLEASE NOTE: Heartbeat Detector contains a sequence which includes strobe lighting.

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