THE GOOD DOCTOR Review

Orlando Bloom is an interesting case. He has always come off as a prestigious type of actor who peaked early and has since been unable to deliver a successful film that wasn't a part of The Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. He'll get a bit more exposure of course this winter as he reprises the role of Legolas, but in the mean time he has starred in and produced this small indie film that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The Good Doctor is a simple little psychological drama that is straightforward in the way it approaches its story allowing the real focus of the film to be on the odd principle character. The way in which I interpreted the film was more in the vein of a character study rather than any kind of commentary on the healthcare system or any allusions to what is wrong with that system. The film actually cares very little about commenting on those types of issues, if at all, but is instead more invested in the idea that someone with such knowledge and power will abuse it for personal gain. That is of course nothing new, people do it all the time, yet the angle the film takes on the idea the person with that power might not be of the right mind; that they would abuse that authority to the point it affects the entire life course of those who willingly submit themselves and their welfare to that person is what's instilled in the audience. It is enhanced by the films creepy tone and a rather impressive performance from Bloom who becomes increasingly dependent on this need for praise and respect he feels he rightly deserves. He believes it so much we can only hope he lives up to the reputation he's given himself and will be able to cure his own serious condition.

Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) finds it odd a nurse
(Taraji P. Henson) is so rude to him.
In The Good Doctor Bloom plays Martin Blake, a first year medical resident who strictly believes in the train of thought that with all he has accomplished academically he should of course be regarded in a higher esteem then those around him. At first, it is hard to argue with this. He is a doctor in a hospital and he deserves respect, that is a given. It is the small things that bother the young doctor though such as a nurse who is somewhat rude to him when confirming what his sloppy handwriting says. He is, on the outside a shy, polite young man who only wants to be the person or the doctor that his aspirations always wanted him to be. It is the underlying tension that builds in him that creates the unease with us as a viewer and when we allow ourselves to take a step back makes us appreciate the full effect of Bloom's subtleties. It is hinted at early on that Blake is not a sinister character but someone who honestly wants to be what the title professes. He is scared to mess up and is frightened for his reputation when a mistake and lack of understanding create an incident that seems like it should have been handled a little more seriously than it was. It is when the good doctor becomes entranced by a patient who seems to adore him for all the reasons he feels he should be that he can't help but to want that admiration to continue. The engaging patient is a young high school student named Diane (played by an angelic Riley Keough) who girlishly flirts with the doctor and feeds his ego to the point he can't have her leave. When she does get better and her thankful parents invite the good doctor over for dinner he spikes her meds to make sure she will return to the hospital under his care.

Blake becomes fascinated by a young patient
(Riley Keough) that shows interest in him.
While it becomes painfully obvious to the audience what Blake is up to and how he plans to keep Diane at the hospital to the point she becomes deathly ill, it is a kind of a revelation to the audience that Blake can so cunningly get away with everything that he does. He is able to go to extremes while the colleagues around him either feel bad for him or are too afraid to question him though the feisty Henson does seem to go in and out of suspicions about the new doctor. We can't decide whether Blake is completely evil or if he has simply gotten himself in so deep that he feels no other way to escape his current predicament than to keep going down the rabbit hole. This is both where the film gets to its most meaty sections while also raising the most important question it fails to answer. We see Blake nearly lose it as he goes out of control to try and cover his tracks when an orderly at the hospital who blackmails him. Michael Pena gives a deceptive performance but he rises to match the doctor when he finds a diary that includes some incriminating evidence using it to hold one over on Blake to acquire drugs. While Blake exists in a world cleansed of everything that isn't unsettling and while we are certainly shocked at the turns the story takes we never truly feel we get to know who Blake is beyond his actions. What motivates him? There is never a sense outside of this small, narcissistic view that he displays that we get to know him. I wanted to know where he came from, what he was like in college, had he done this before? Certainly there must have been cases in his schooling where he thought of the situations this film documents. What fed his need to feel different and important before becoming a doctor? There is more to explore here, more to study about the character than the script gives him credit for and unfortunately the movie wastes more time setting up what the doctor is doing than examining why.

Blake makes a deal with an orderly (Michael Pena) to
keep what he found hidden.
Director by Lance Daly (an Irishman likely most known for his 2008 film Kisses) gives the world we watch Blake operate in a saturated look and an isolated feel. Its not often that we find Blake in the company of other human beings outside of the hospital and even there Daly and his cinematographers make the hospitals look as bland on film as they usually feel when you're stuck waiting in one. The elements of the film make it an enjoyable one, culminating in a final shot that is similar to one of my favorite films of last year Martha Marcy May Marlene. It simply cuts off, leaving you the opportunity to interpret what might come next or giving us the inclination about how the doctor will approach his life and work from that point out. It is an interesting route to go, but despite all of the things the film has going for it I never felt as if I was truly engaged in the story or wrapped up in the drama. Is it horrible what happens, yes of course and it does make its point with a good amount of effectiveness but it doesn't necessarily entertain or draw you in the way you might have expected it to after reading the plot synopsis. I expected something more along the lines of One Hour Photo but instead wound up with a film that while certainly borrowing some kind of tone from that film doesn't embrace its psychological study the same way. It could also be attributed to the fact Robin Williams gave such a drastic performance than his public persona we felt more informed about just how sick his character was. While Bloom doesn't have that strong of a persona it is not the actors fault that the film fails when it does. He puts on a solid show and the film is worth checking out for that alone, but everything else crumbles around him leaving the movie as it does the man, empty inside.