‘The Good Doctor’ Review


Film Pulse Score

Release Date:  August 31, 2012
Showing via OnDemand Platforms:  July 27, 2012
Director:  Lance Daly
MPAA Rating:  PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 2/10

I must admit that before The Good Doctor, I did not remember seeing Orlando Bloom in anything other than The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  A quick Internet search reminded me that he also appeared in Troy and Kingdom of Heaven, but it says something that I did not really remember those films or his appearance in them.  While he made a terrific elf and a blacksmith-turned-pirate, his portrayal of an internist in this latest film is far from either of these mainstay characters.

Bloom plays Dr. Martin Blake who finds himself treating a teenage patient named Diane Nixon (Riley Keough) for pyelonephritis which is a potentially dangerous type of urinary tract infection.  She responds well to treatment and even leaves the hospital after a few days.  However, before she leaves, Diane, her sister, and her parents find themselves in deep gratitude to Blake for healing Diane.  Valerie is smitten with “the good doctor,” but Diane is in an on-again/off-again relationship with her boyfriend, Rich.  Blake is invited over for dinner and accepts; it seems an odd proposal and even odder that a doctor would accept such an invitation.

In what seems to be the blink of an eye, Blake decides to make Diane sick again.  He replaces her medication in her medicine cabinet with sugar pills.  Once back in the hospital, he does something to the intravenous medication she receives to combat the recurring pyelonephritis, making her condition worse and bringing about sepsis (a life-threatening blood infection).  Why?  Does he fancy her?  Are his actions aimed at becoming her “hero” when he saves her?  It seems unlikely based on his relationship with other doctors and nurses in the hospital.  It appears much more likely that he is making her sick so that he can prove he is the very definition of a “good” doctor.  It is, in essence, a doctor-patient version of Münchausen-by-proxy.  He makes her sicker so that he can miraculously heal her and earn the respect of the doctor in charge, Dr. Waylans (Rob Morrow), who will make the decision about an upcoming infectious disease fellowship; the nursing staff, particularly Nurse Theresa (Taraji P. Hensen) who he sees as impudent; and his peers such as fellow doctor billed only as Dan (Troy Garity).  Unfortunately, his plan backfires and Diane dies two-thirds of the way through the film.  What makes it worse is that Dr. Waylans and other specialists and nurses aided Blake in his deceptive acts without even realizing what they were party to.  Blake even gains the sympathy of his peers as they inform him a doctor is not a “real” doctor until he or she has lost a patient.  Is he psychotic, greedy, starved for attention, immature, or all of the above?  His motives are unknown, and quite frankly, I found I did not care one bit.

But there is still a third act, and there is little I wish to say about it for fear of providing spoilers.  I can reveal that the orderly Jimmy (Michael Peña) finds the diary Diane had been keeping all during her stay in the hospital.  Jimmy uses the journal – which apparently includes some intimate recollections of Diane and Blake’s “relationship” – against Blake.  For the two were closer than anyone knew, including her ex-boyfriend and her sister.  With this revelation, the good doctor’s image and conscience become tested through a quick series of events related to Diane’s journal, Jimmy’s sudden death, and that death’s investigation by Detective Krauss (J. K. Simmons).

However, when it seems things are really coming to a head, the film abruptly ends and, in doing so, nearly ruins every possible good element that had come before (not that there were really any worth mentioning).  I was taken aback by the ending and sorely disappointed.  Not that the film had been that great up to that point at all; it had not.  But to end the way it did was peculiar and soured me on whatever positive elements I had hoped to find in recalling the film.  All in all, the performances were wooden which leads me to question the writing and directing because we have seen Bloom, Morrow, Keough, Garity, Hensen, Peña, and Simmons better than this.  So, move along, there’s nothing to see here.