The intentions are good and laudable, except that the film preaches in excess.
There are a lot of productions about firefighters, both in film and on television.Most of them show these figures as indestructible heroes who only bite the flames off. Heightened clichés for spectacular purposes.
The trait is fortunately a little sharper in Save or Perish which tries to reveal the human being behind the mask and function. Franck (Pierre Niney) has everything to be happy: a wife (Anaïs Demoustier) who is waiting for twins and a job as a firefighter that he loves.Until a fire goes bad, leaving him disfigured…
As in the Book of Job, our sacrificed man ends up losing everything he cares about. He will not turn into a superhero by avenging himself as in Darkman, but by rebuilding himself with his vital energy. A long and arduous task punctuated by relapses, recalling nevertheless the hope of the beautiful tomorrow, that light which always ends up triumphing over darkness.
The intentions are good and laudable, except that the film preaches in excess. First of all pompous and moralizing speeches, especially in the second part which opens the valves of manipulative emotion and sticky music. The dialogues are so evocative, so written that they end up lacking in naturalness. On paper, the phrases “Life has forgotten me”, “Nobody is invincible”, and “The Craft Leads Us to Life” are pretty. It’s too bad they don’t show up on screen. The climax of the story is the luminous and inspiring finale, which is however spoiled by a tone too easy and exchanges that leave something to be desired.
The talented filmmaker Frédéric Tellier had a happier hand on his previous L’affaire SK1, which took place in a police universe. We note again this quest for realism and intimism, emphasizing the psychological contribution of his subjects. Here too, a rebirth is possible in the face of the tragedy that is taking place in the public and private sphere. This inner struggle is expressed in the very heart of its realization, classical and inspired, which begins in the carelessness of happiness (with long travellings), then becomes more static as its protagonist, before being on the move and returning to life. The camera and the staging are thus tools for reflection and transformation.
The main reason to pay attention to this creation, however, is the contribution of its immense actors. It always pays to play someone who is disfigured and Pierre Niney offers a vibrant and moving performance. His odyssey from hell to the world of the living marks the spirits. An initiatory path allowing him to find a new identity, to bear another face. He is not alone in suffering and the scenario leaves a lot of room for his grieving wife, camped by the incandescent Anaïs Demoustier. Here is a fire duo that is perfectly powered by the ever-burning Vincent Rottiers and Sami Bouajila.
They are the ones who prevent the feature film from drowning in anonymity, who inject some of their soul into noble characters, stuck in situations that are not always convincing and satisfying. To save or to perish hardly rises above the average of true stories of a therapeutic nature is a pity.