If You Saw His Heart (2017)
Reviewed by: Tarnem Afify
If You Saw His Heart is another TIFF Film debuted at this year’s festival. Directed by Joan Chemla, the film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a petty gypsy thief hiding out in a derelict motel called Metropole. There he crosses paths with a beautiful stranger, Francine, and while she appears to be just as lost in this brutal underworld as he is, she may just prove to be the very person who can save him. The film starts off with an extended wedding sequence where we see Daniel hanging out with the groom, Costel. The two are best friends and belong to a gypsy community situated in the South of France. Once the party is over, the script flashes back-and-forth revealing how Daniel lured Costel into a life of crime and feels responsible for his accidental death.
Even though there is an evident art form in the pictures used as well as harmony between the colours in the background and the scenes’ atmosphere, I would not recommend the movie. It lacks smooth transitions between its events and has an open ending that does not make sense! Its fragmented narrative seems to be trying to compensate for the shortage in its content. It has a slow progression in the events that leads to an ending that is not much different from the beginning. Finally, the movie not given an official rating. However, based on the violence, sexual content, and tobacco presence throughout the film, I would personally rate it 18A.
Was there smoking in the movie? Yes. The movie contains tobacco, lots of it.
What was happening in the scene with smoking? It starts off with scenes from Costel’s wedding and impressively enough, the first scene is of a magician using a cigarette as a tool to perform magic tricks! Smoking and drinking are displayed in the movie, as a source of entertainment during these gatherings. Smoking especially, is illustrated as a tool for reliving stress, sadness, feelings of confusion, and negative emotions. Characters smoke when thinking about their current situations, future and fate, as well as a mean for relaxation.
What was your reaction to seeing the characters using tobacco? I was shocked that the movie had included a scene of children and youth smoking. This scene was very unnecessary and the only clear message it is delivering is the normalization of smoking among children and youth. Even though most of the audience in the theater were adults and it may appear that the movie was not directly targeting youth, it is clear that the point of such a scene is to normalize the act of youth smoking among parents, teachers, supervisors, and those who support, guide, and teach youth. All in all, it was disappointing to see smoking in If You Saw his Heart and it was obvious that the industry was using the movie as a means to promote its products. If smoking was taken out of the movie, it would have given the actors more room to use their skills and talent to contribute to the plot and produce a higher quality work.
Did the movie show the real health effects and consequences of tobacco use? The real consequences of using tobacco are masked and falsified when the movie displays smoking as a necessity for life and equated it with food and drinks.