The Good Doctor tells the story of Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) who seeks to be the titular good doctor, but for all the wrong reasons. When prompted, he explains that he chose this career to feed his need for affirmation and respect, that helping his patients fell secondary to being liked by them. Sounds a bit like Dr. Gregory House, but without the confidence or wit. He quarrels with a nurse (Taraji P. Henson) and an orderly (Michael Peña), and brown-noses toward his superior Dr. Waylans (Rob Morrow), when along comes Diane (Riley Keough), seeking treatment for a kidney/urinary tract infection. She bats an eye at him just so, and a pseudo-romance ensues.
He cures Diane of her run-of-the-mill infection and her family is suddenly enamored with him, resulting in a dinner invitation. Blake attends, but Diane is absent from the engagement, caught up in another off-screen altercation with her sometimes boyfriend Rich (Nathan Keyes), of whom Blake is jealous.
This is when the bad doctor comes out, swapping pills and making his muse sick to get her back into the hospital, eventually making things much worse than he ever expected. Meanwhile, Jimmy the orderly allegedly gets dirt on the doctor’s infatuation with Diane, and starts blackmailing Blake for prescription narcotics. Next thing you know, a police investigation is underway, and Blake seems to be at wit’s end with the mess he’s gotten himself into.
Sound exciting? It’s not. Another review called the acting “understated,” which would be defined here as “restrained in presentation.” Lost in Translation’s moving portrayal of the relationship between Scarlett Johansson’s and Bill Murray’s characters was understated. Calling The Good Doctor’s acting “understated” is like calling Kristen Stewart not the most emotive actress you’ve ever seen. Then the Making Of featurette on the disc espouses the constant “tension” and “thrills.” Was there tension? I had some anticipation when I was waiting for the story to actually take off, given the cast they put together for this story. Sadly, it never really did. Thrills? Didn’t feel a one.
There were several avenues for tension to develop. Diane’s father confronts Blake about possible mistreatment of his patients, but that situation is immediately dissolved and never spoken of again. The police investigation hardly raises hackles, either. I like J.K. Simmons as the detective on the case, but, as the Making Of states, he was only on set for a couple of days, and has two whole scenes to show for it. It’s not as much an investigation as it is just unprovocative dialogue, first at the hospital, then at Blake’s apartment. The only interesting thing at this point is when Blake tries to flush entirely too much not-evidence down a toilet and floods his bathroom, then trying to climb out the window to escape in the most cliched scene imaginable.
I say not-evidence because, honestly, Diane’s diary wouldn’t have incriminated him at all. If anything, it would have cleared his name against any accusation of wrongdoing, given they clearly had a connection with absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. A patient wouldn’t glow adoringly about someone she thought was trying to kill her. He got away with what he did, and acts like a bumbling idiot for it even though no one suspects him of anything. Mr. Brooks demonstrates a truly bad individual who is cool as a cucumber about the things he’s done. The lengths to which Blake goes to cover up his recent past would have you thinking he raped or cheated or stole or punched a baby in the face. So his patient had a crush on him. Why that was a bad thing was lost on me. Yes, he did wrong, but absolutely no one knew about it.
The movie offers up one fantasy ending that makes absolutely no sense in any rational person’s mind, then snaps back to reality where everything is suddenly back to normal, with no consequences, and all guilt apparently absolved. I guess given the low-key trappings, I’m supposed to think this could happen to me at any hospital today. My only real concern is I might check with my doctor to see if it’s possible to die of boredom after watching this. The performances are reasonably good; I don’t want to take away from the talent in the cast. The problem is with the slow story and unlikable, melodramatic, occasionally hyperreactive characters they were given to portray.
Aside from the aforementioned Making Of and AXS TV “Look” at the movie, the only other extra is a theatrical trailer. The 1080p presentation looks good, though some of the dialogue was a bit too quiet and muddled (maybe it, too, was “understated”) on the 5.1 DTS audio. Given the overall quiet, subdued nature of the movie, you’re not likely to get any great advantage by running it through a superior sound system.
Some indie movies can get by on being esoteric, and my wife noted she thought the camera work and angles used were interesting and well implemented. The performance were decent and the cast is noteworthy, they just weren’t given enough to work with. It hinted at a man unraveling about having committed malpractice, or a police drama surrounding the investigation that would follow, or even an eerie family revenge story, but none of these happen. While not having those themes or elements keeps it more in the realm of the possible, it doesn’t make for very good entertainment.