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Heartbeat Detector
Heartbeat Detector
Actors: Mathieu Amalric, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Lou Castel, Laetitia Spigarelli
Director: Nicolas Klotz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
UR     2008     2hr 21min

Heartbeat Detector is a riveting mystery of blackmail and intrigue, where the long-buried secrets of high-powered corporate executives threaten to bring them down. — Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) is Si...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mathieu Amalric, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Lou Castel, Laetitia Spigarelli
Director: Nicolas Klotz
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Crime, Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
Studio: New Yorker Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 07/22/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 21min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A potentially interesting movie, undone by the self-aware ea
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/29/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Here's a movie with a serious theme, undone by the earnestness of the director and writer. We know how serious the theme is because it involves Nazi death camps, and not just as a reminder of what humans are capable of, but as an odd metaphor for humanity's current business conditions.

"Did you know," says one character, "we don't have poor people anymore? Only people on modest incomes. We no longer talk of "issues," such as social issues, but "problems" that our specialists split up into a series of technical details. For each one, they'll find the optimum solution."

That may or may not be true, depending on one's own social enthusiasms, but Nicolas Klotz, the director, and Elisabeth Perceval, the screenwriter, seem to be making the case that corporate downsizing is the moral equivalent of Nazi extermination actions. The parallel is not only grotesquely naive, but thickheadedly trivializes some of humanity's worst atrocities. One has to admire, and I mean this seriously, their earnestness, but their earnestness leads them into the fatal flaw of some artists: That their passion for social justice equates as artistic talent.

The Human Question (the English title, Heartbeat Detector, is confusing) gives us a good start. A corporate psychologist at SCFarb, a giant German company with a major Parisian subsidiary, is called upon by Karl Rose, the firm's deputy manager, to secretly report on the mental health of SCFarb's head, Mathias Just (Michael Lonsdale). Our man, Simon Kessler (Mathieu Amalric), is told that Just has been behaving erratically. Simon is given this assignment because of how effective and dedicated he had been in his role during a major downsizing. Simon gets more than he bargained for. He discovers something called the Farb Quartet, which several years ago played for employees. Just was the violinist. This gives him cover to meet with and evaluate Just to discuss the possibility of a Farb employee symphony. After two meetings and a visit to Just's home, it's clear to Simon that Just is exhausted, in the midst of some sort of crises and is racked by a deep sadness. And then Just tells Simon he knows all about Simon's assignment...and that Karl Rose was a child from a Nazi program to increase the numbers of Aryan children. Then there are the letters Just gives him, letters that talk about the role of Just's father at a death camp. This is followed by anonymous letters Simon begins to get which artfully combine sections of Simons recommendations for downsizing and old Nazi instructions for killing people.

And on it goes for nearly two-and-a-half hours. There is no drama to speak of, just lots of long takes, long monologues and long scenes. There are lots of secondary issues that move around without resolution. It takes 80 minutes to get to where tension in Simon's assignment starts to build and where we think there might be something wrong in the relationship between Just and Rose. It takes 95 minutes to get to the point of the movie...activities at Nazi extermination camps and the lack of emotion about how people are treated today. "The business world is unforgiving," says Just. "How do you reconcile `the human factor' with the company's need to make money?"

Some viewers become angry or sarcastic when faced with movies like this. My emotions are sadness and boredom. Sadness because the serious intent of the movie's creators exceeds their abilities. Boredom, because no matter how earnest the intent of a movie, a movie's first responsibility is to engage the viewer at some meaningful level, even if that level is based only on technique. For me, Heartbeat Detector missed that requirement, especially at the level of technique. But in an unintended bit of irony, we also figure out that being a company psychologist must require all the supple morals of a physician who assists in "robust" interrogations of prisoners. Michael Lonsdale, however, is a fine actor. It was almost worth seeing the movie to watch him.

The DVD is bare bones. It looks just fine except for some of the nighttime scenes when little can be made out."
A very poetic movie about our sociaty.
Maksim Volovik | Neponsit, NY United States | 03/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film paints a metaphor by constructing a story about music (as the human soul) in a big corporation (our society). And also proves one assertion that the recalling memories of the old sins never leave human being even if he is only a witness. So there is a Parisian psychologist (Mathieu Amalric) who is to follow one human fate only to discover the pain added on another pain and so on... He is on the way to resolve his own illusions or maybe only to make the first step to do so. We don't know a lot because some things in life happen in a darkness..."