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The Good Doctor(2011)
Dr. Martin Blake, who has spent his life looking for respect, meets an 18-year-old patient named Diane, suffering from a kidney infection, and gets a much-needed boost of self-esteem. However, when her health starts improving, Martin fears losing her, so he begins tampering with her treatment, keeping Diane sick and in the hospital right next to him.
For more about The Good Doctor and the The Good Doctor Blu-ray release, see the The Good Doctor Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Rob Morrow, Taraji P. Henson, Michael Peña, Troy Garity
Director: Lance Daly
» See full cast & crew
The Good Doctor Blu-ray Review
Or, more appropriately, The "Good" Doctor.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 22, 2012
Orlando Bloom has made a career—one that seems to be withering of late—out of playing bland good guys and semi-heroes. The flaxen-haired, bow- toting Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Pirates of the Caribbean's mild-mannered blacksmith, Will Turner. A crusading cipher— also a blacksmith—in Kingdom of Heaven. The Kirstin Dunst-besotted shoe designer in Cameron Crowe's dippy Elizabethtown. He's never terrible in these roles—well, besides his un-buyable American accent in that last one—but he does have a tendency to be slightly boring. Too nice. Too noble. Too fangless.
In his latest film, The Good Doctor, he switches it up a bit and plays a bland bad guy. I don't necessary mean that pejoratively. Here, the surface-level milquetoast-ness is essential to his character, an internal medicine intern who appears concerned and well-intentioned, but wants to be a doctor for all the wrong reasons. Throughout the course of the film—a sort of dreary hospital thriller about obsession and respect—he breaks nearly every tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, endangering lives and lying to keep his unethical behavior under wraps.
Bloom is medical student Martin Blake, a British transplant to Southern California, where he's doing his residency. He clearly has some naive and arrogant assumptions about how someone in his position should be treated. He expects to be showered with rockstar reverence, but his nemesis, Nurse Theresa (Teraji Penda Hanson), bitches him out about his handwriting on what feels like an hourly basis, and goof-off ward orderly Jimmy (Michael Peña) views him with jealous, barely veiled disdain. Martin's idealism is dealt a crushing blow when his mentor/supervisor, Dr. Waylans (Rob Morrow), tells him the secret to being a good doctor: "You act like one." That is, fake it 'til you make it.
Martin gets a confidence boost, though, when he begins to treat 18-year-old Diane Nixon (Riley Keough), a pretty blonde high schooler who's been brought in for a kidney infection and takes an instant liking to him. Presumably pleased that someone is finally giving him the attention he believes he deserves, Martin reciprocates by taking a special interest in Diane's case, making more rounds to her room than he needs to and engaging in lightly flirty—but not necessarily outright inappropriate—conversation. The line-crossing comes later. Diane is sent home with antibiotics when her condition improves, and her parents—to show their thanks for his care—invite him over for dinner. Their ulterior motive is to introduce him to their other, older daughter (Sorel Carradine)—who seems to be a gold-digger and a possible slut—but Martin is already helplessly infatuated with Diane, to the extent that he replaces her pills with placebos so that her infection will return and she'll become his patient once again.
Obviously, this is a huge ethical no-no, so much so that it actually threatens to flatline the film. We have a hard time believing that this young doctor— so concerned about the progress of his career—would do such a thing. If he wanted Diane's attention, there are much easier, less potentially disastrous ways to get it, especially now that he's on such good terms with her family. It's a difficult dramatic pill to swallow, particularly since the film doesn't give us much reason as to why or how Martin finds Diane so alluring that he'd risk his professional reputation. Sure, she's attractive and young and looks up to him, but their interactions are so limited that it's hard to feel that their relationship has sufficient depth to warrant his actions.
If you can get past this, The Good Doctor does improve in its second half, as Martin's self-made situation spirals out of control. Without giving away too much—the film does have a few good turns that shouldn't be spoiled—Diane is readmitted to the hospital with a worsening condition, and Martin goes to ever sneakier lengths to ensure that she doesn't immediately get better, tampering with her IV bag and bacteria culture tests. Inevitably, someone discovers that Martin is overstepping his bounds, and this leads to an entirely new conflict, complete with blackmail, filched medication, and a poisonous twist straight out of an episode of Breaking Bad.
I make the Breaking Bad comparison specifically, since The Good Doctor also asks us to empathize with a main character who does increasingly awful things that can't be truly justified. To his credit, Orlando Bloom strikes a good balance in the role—a little creepy, a little pitiable, a little off-putting, a little charming—and I like seeing him here, playing against type. (What's with that dopey haircut, though?) The film's gravity is aided significantly by a great supporting cast. Riley Keough—Elvis' eldest granddaughter—has a semi-sultry glow that's sensual without being sexual, and Rob Morrow has this laconic, chilled out, above-it-all thing going on that's perfect for his confident-but-humble character.
Written by John Enbom (TV's Party Down and directed by Lance Daly (Kisses), The Good Doctor thrills and bores in about equal measure; most of the time, I was split on how I actually felt about the film. There are scenes of supreme how's he going to get out of this tension, and others that go dramatically inert. The final act is both the best and worst part of the film; the suspense ramps considerably, but the script pulls a last-minute fake-out that feels cheap, and the whole thing ends on an awkward freeze frame, as if Daley had no idea how to stage a proper denouement.
The Good Doctor Blu-ray, Video Quality
A low-budget indie production, The Good Doctor was shot on 16mm, so the resultant 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is inherently softer and grainier than a 35mm film. This is an interesting choice; faced with similar limitations, many other filmmakers would chose to go digital, which would seem appropriate for the sterile hospital setting. Shooting on film keeps the movie from being too clean and clinical, though, adding a layer of grain that keeps the image warm and active-looking, for the lack of a better phrase. It works, and it's nicely reproduced here, with no noticeable DNR or edge enhancement. If there are any compression-related artifacts here, it's hard to discern them from the naturally thick analog noise that covers each frame. Clarity takes a hit anytime you're dealing with 16mm—which has effectively half the resolution of 35mm—but the picture looks as resolved as it probably can be, and from a normal viewing distance, the softness isn't overly apparent. The film's color palette is decidedly drab—all white and gray walls, muted hues, and drained skin tones—but contrast is good and everything looks as intended.
The Good Doctor Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Good Doctor arrives on Bluray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that's low-key but perfectly functional. This is a quiet psychological thriller, so the focus is on the dialogue, which is always cleanly recorded, balanced in the mix, and easily understood. Everything else is just atmosphere. The rear channels probably aren't used as often as they could've been, but you will hear some ambience when called for—hospital hallway chatter, lapping waves, etc.—and a few rare directional effects. The surrounds are better used to expand the emotive score by I Mother Earth vocalist and sometime tattoo artist Brian Bryne. The music stays mostly restrained, aside from two particularly dramatic sequences, where it's allowed to soar. The disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, which appear in easy-to-read white lettering.
The Good Doctor Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Good Doctor Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Good Doctor is a bit like taking your medicine; it's good for you—in that it's thematically rich and psychologically layered—but it isn't very fun, especially for a purported thriller. While the film does have some moments of oh no, oh no, what's gonna happen next intensity, it drags its dramatic heels far too often. Go ahead and give it a shot if you're looking for a low-key character study, although I'd probably go with a rental or streaming option instead of a purchase. I can't see this one getting a lot of repeat viewings, and the disc is short of substantive special features.
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The Good Doctor Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Good Doctor Blu-ray (Updated) - November 16, 2012
Magnolia Pictures will release on Blu-ray director Lance Daly's thriller The Good Doctor (2011), starring Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Troy Garity, and Taraji P. Henson. The preliminary release date set by the distributors is December 18th.
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