A COEUR OUVERT/AN OPEN HEART/MONKEY ON MY BACK
France, 2012, 87 minutes, Colour.
Juliette Binoche, Edgar Ramirez, Hippolyte Girardot.
Directed by Marion Laine.
An Open Heart was directed by Marion Laine, who has a strong reputation based on the film, A Simple Heart.
The action of this film is confined to the apartment and to the hospital.
On the domestic level, it is the story of a marriage, many years passing, an unwillingness to have children. However, Mila (Juliette Binoche) discovers she is pregnant, thinks of having an abortion, changes her mind and looks forward to having the child? Her husband, Javier (Edgar Ramirez) has a background of an alcoholic family, drinks in frustration, this affecting his work at the hospital, his moods with his wife, the passionate love making, then his moods and tensions.
On the hospital level, husband and wife are surgeons, he responsible for setting up a section for transplant surgery – and there are scenes of these operations. Mila is a fine surgeon and finds it difficult with the politics of the hospital, the decision to suspend her husband, his prospects or a lack of prospects for the future, and even with his moods.
The stars are fine in their roles, bring some life and conviction to both aspects of this drama.
1. A domestic drama? Marriage, pregnancy? Consequences?
2. Medical drama, hospitals, surgery and surgeons, administration?
3. The French setting, apartments and action within the apartment? The hospital, surgery, the operation table? Patients, the corridors? The staff and meetings?
4. The title, the reference to Javier and Mila, to the surgery, heart transplants?
5. The focus on life within the hospital, the collaboration in the operating room, the details of operations? The aftermath?
6. Javier and Mila, their marriage, love for each other, work together? The decision not to have children? Mila not wanting children, wanting a professional life?
7. The collaboration, their love, at the parties after the operations, love making at home, the exhilaration between them?
8. Javier, his drinking, becoming unreliable, the background of his family and alcoholism? His being late for surgery? The criticisms of the administration? Suspending him? Driving him more deeply into drinking? His behaviour at home, erratic? His physical collapse, his trying to do exercise and recover? His confrontation with the administration, criticism? Not able to go elsewhere because his file would follow him? Hearing the news of Mila’s pregnancy, his reaction, her talking of abortion, his wanting the child? His erratic moods, love and difficulties? Not turning up for the birthing lessons? His urging his colleague to look after Mila and the child?
9. Mila, age, experience, love for her husband, assessed for the life? Not wanting a child? Discovering she was pregnant, deciding about the abortion, the discussions, her changing her mind, looking forward to the child, the experience of pregnancy, going to the lesson with the colleague? Trying to deal with Javier, in surgery, outside, at home, his moods, her love, growing exasperation? His career?
10. His deciding to move out, his motivations?
11. The surrealism of the birth sequence? The realism and the Caesarean operation? The child? The contrast with the dream, the images, her hair being shaved, the material on her head, in the boat, her fears, reassurance?
12. Final images of Javier and their daughter, the future – real or in hope?