Cast out of his insular community, a damaged and down-on-his-luck man (Gael García Bernal) teeters between a life of crime and the path to redemption.
If You Saw His Heart
An assured feature debut that begins in gritty realism then shifts to include bold, expressionist strokes, If You Saw His Heart marks the arrival of an important new voice in European cinema. Director Joan Chemla relies on her instinct for mood and atmosphere, as well as the talents of her high-powered cast — Gael García Bernal and Marine Vacth — to fashion a troubling and heartbreaking film about lonely people finding each other in a troubled world.
Though it's not immediately evident during his participation in the riotous wedding celebration that opens the film, Daniel (Bernal) is a man reeling from grief. He is haunted by the death of his closest friend in an accident for which he feels partly responsible — and for which he has been cast out of his insular traveller community. Living in a rundown rooming house and always behind on rent, Daniel gets by through scams and minor burglaries. His building is populated by colourful misfits and losers, all living on the edge like him.
But one day a ray of hope enters Daniel's life in the form of an equally damaged and fragile young woman, Francine (Vacth). As the ice melts between the two of them, Daniel and Francine begin to believe that there may well be something good to live for. If You Saw His Heart is based on Cuban author Guillermo Rosales' 1987 novel Boarding Home (a.k.a. The Halfway House). It is a poignant story of a young couple determined to make a life for themselves and move on from darkened pasts.