It's hard not to go into a medical drama without a preconception of what it's going to be like. I mean, we've all see House and Grey's Anatomy. We know the drill: there will be blood, there will be over-the-top drama, there will be sex in the break room, and maybe someone might sing a musical number.

Katell Quillévéré's Heal the Living is refreshing in that sense as it beautifully maintains the necessary weight and heartache that comes with the hospital territory whilst never pushing too far or rolling any eyes.

The film takes place over approximately 24 hours and documents the journey a heart takes. It starts with a young boy, Simon (Gabin Verdet), as he sneaks out his girlfriend's window in the dead of night. The camera fluidly follows him through the quiet city, the city he now owns. The feeling of uninhibited youth is almost palpable. Simon meets up with his friends and they travel to the coast to go surfing. The surfing scene is absolutely exquisite (seriously, Quillévéré needs to make an ocean documentary, stat). I was in the ocean with them; I could feel the waves beating and crashing. It felt wet. And alive.

A car crash and suddenly Simon is robbed of all of that. He's left in a coma and his parents (Emmanuelle Seigner, Kool Shen) are left to decide what to do with his body. There's a numbness there, on their faces and in the way they walk, that people who've experienced an abrupt loss like that will recognize. Much of their time spent in the hospital is trailing behind this doctor or that down endless hallways, which is everyone's experience of a hospital, I think. Hallway after hallway.

The decision is made and Simon's heart finds a match in Claire (Anne Dorval), a musician with a failing heart. She is struggling with her diagnosis and mortality (at one point she muses that maybe she wouldn't want a new heart at all) and tries to protect her college-aged sons from knowing too much.

The doctors play just as an important role in this story, as they are the movers of the heart; the constructors of the heart; the lifeline of the heart. They're compassionate, yet practical and competent—human beings, basically, and not outrageous doctor stereotypes. Like the other characters in the film, they're nuanced and grounded.

Heal the Living's careful, emotional story is supported by sublime cinematography and a delicate piano score from Alexandre Desplat. That score accompanies the characters throughout every scene except for one: during the actual heart transplant. It is silent as we watch the meticulous procedure play out. It's tense and beautiful. Before the procedure, a doctor places earbuds in Simon's ears, a special request by his parents, and we hear the music his girlfriend picked out: the ocean.

HEAL THE LIVING, directed by Katell Quillévéré, premiered on Thursday 6 October at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival. Go here to learn more.