Heartbeat Detector begins as a dryly limp satire of corporate culture and ends as cruel and unusual punishment. Mathieu Amalric is Simon Kessler, a chemical company’s psychiatrist who is in charge of motivating the corporation’s drones and grooming them into soldiers. From SC Farb’s sparsely decorated offices to its noticeably young and fetching staff we glean a critique of big business and the façade of public-relations showmanship, a feeling impacted by director Nicolas Klotz’s old-hat symmetrical compositions of couches, urinals, file cabinets, and hand dryers. Techno music is Simon’s fiercest—possibly only—motivational tool: In a running gag, SC Farb’s employees go to raves, where the men cave to their latent homosexual desires and Simon can’t recognize his office honey beneath a black wig, though no mention is made of who may have supplied the x or tina. As satire, the film lacks bite, but it generates some measure of good will from its utter strangeness—that is, until a pretentious historical dialogue rises to the surface and the film is gripped by a punishing inscrutability. Like George Clooney’s Michael Clayton chasing after Tom Wilkinson’s Shiva, Simon’s inside man begins to delve into the past of SC Farb’s eccentric CEO, Mathias Jüst (Michael Lonsdale), until he’s reached all the way back to the Holocaust. Klotz’s bloodless tangled web means to link the cruelest ghosts of history to the most cold-blooded modes of modern-day business practices, but mostly it gives the impression of being read to from a technical manual for two-plus hours.
- Red Envelope Entertainment and New Yorker Films
- 141 min
- Nicolas Klotz
- Elisabeth Perceval
- Mathieu Amalric, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, Laetitia Spigarelli, Valérie Dréville, Delphine Chuillot, Lou Castel, Édith Scob
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