A stylistically rigorous and moving meditation on the inexorable dark forces of history that reshaped 20th century Europe, Scarred Hearts is an innovative adaptation of the eponymous autobiographical novel by Romanian Jewish writer M. Blecher, inspired by his struggles with Pott’s disease, a crippling form of bone tuberculosis. Set in a polished Romanian sanitarium on the eve of WWII, Radu Jude’s film maintains a fixed camera for most of its extended sequence shots, observing the ailing young writer Emanuel from a marked and often ironic distance as he adjusts to his condition and the constricting body cast that protects his deteriorating spine. Broken into episodes by title card passages of Blecher’s diaristic writings, Scarred Hearts lends a literary introspection to Emanuel’s daily routines and the romance that starts to blossom between him and a comely young patient. Jadu carefully describes the sanitarium as both a refuge from the outside world and a microcosm for the precarious tip towards fascism, pointedly revealed in anti-Semitic innuendos and an imprecise, creeping sense of malaise. Scarred Hearts nevertheless finds bright humor and human warmth in Emanuel’s small victories and the fragile camaraderie forged with fellow patients and sufferers.