Written by Films

Heartbeat Detector

Here’s a bit of an oddity. Heartbeat Detector is a French film focussing on the headquarters of the French division of a German company. We follow Simon, a psychologist employed by the firm. He’s recently overseen the downsizing of the company – it’s into fuel in some way, but we never hear a great deal more about it – and has now been told to investigate the CEO who’s number two thinks is having a breakdown.
What follows is a strange and disturbing journey as we learn more about the CEO’s life, what’s really going on, and learn more about Simon too who’s got some pretty strange behaviours and compulsions of his own. At a certain point, the film takes a different direction, although I suspect that you’re supposed to have read the runes and seen this telegraphed in advance (Top tip: for once, don’t read Philip French in advance).
The film is very leisurely, with long takes often with fixed cameras that barely seem to react even if characters walk “off stage”. At times this can be intensely frustrating as seemingly little is happening. There’s also an extended scene featuring two songs that, quite frankly, I found utterly interminable. Interesting though the story is, it really didn’t need to take two hours and twenty minutes to get to the end.
Simon, is an a very odd character, but then so are both his girlfriends. He seems to be going through some serious difficulties of his own, most strangely in the aftermath of some very strange kind of company retreat which ends in a fairly riotous rave. Is this really what French company away weekends are like?
I could believe the male domination of the company though. I once attended a conference at a hotel in France which was being shared with a Peugeot conference. I didn’t see a single woman amongst the very smartly turned out French managers.
If you’ve read that this film is in some way a French Michael Clayton, then think again. It’s not. It’s also not really very satisfying in the end, and you’re left a little uncertain why you’ve made the journey.