A young Canadian woman wants to know what people really need in the last moments of their lives. In a restrained way, without any false sentimentality, the film evokes grand questions about the things that are important in life and the strange intimacy between caregivers and the dying.
What do we need in the last moments of our lives? In order to answer this question, the young biologist Simone decides, after the sudden death of her grandmother, to sign up as a volunteer helping with palliative care in a wintry Montreal. Her boyfriend Boris sees the almost obsessive dedication with which she dives into her new work is not just loving altruism, but that she also hides behind the intensive relationships with the dying.
The documentary background of the Canadian artist / camera woman Sophie Deraspe shows through in her second feature, for which she also wrote the script. In an unassuming manner, she investigates the strange intimacy between the caregiver and the dying, who come to the crux in the brief period they know each other, with a good chat or a gentle touch as result.
Without becoming melancholy and without a trace of sentimentality, Vital Signs evokes questions about important things in life and tackles sensitive issues such as our relationship with the (decaying) body, putting an end to unbearable suffering and the feeling of power that can take the caregiver by surprise. Minimalist music accompanies the inner quest of Simone, whose role is beautifully performed with poise by the non-professional actress Marie-Hélène Bellavance. –IFFR
Sophie Deraspe fell into cinema through visual arts and literature. As both a director and a cinematographer, she has worked mostly in documentary before directing her realism-bending first feature length film Missing Victor Pellerin (2006). Followed by critical acclaim and projections throughout the world, Sophie’s realistic work has continued with her second feature film Vital Signs in 2009. —Visitfilms.com
Vital Signs is continuing its impressive international run on the film festival circuit. On Saturday the film won three prizes at the Monterrey Intl Film Festival in Mexico for best sound, best director and best film. Yesterday it won at the Angoulême Film Festival in France. And earlier last week Vital Signs received a special jury mention at the Santiago Film Festival in Chili.
Since its world premiere at Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, its international premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and its US premiere at SXSW in Austin Texas, Vital Signs has received 10 prizes and honourable mentions and has been selected in 19 film festivals across the world. Further selections have been confirmed throughout the rest of the year. firstname.lastname@example.org
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