It’s been a long wait since Lance Daly’s last film, a wonderfully sharpDublincoming of age drama called Kisses, reached our shores. Small in scale and tender, bleeding with emotion, it’s almost the opposite of its follow up, The Good Doctor. It’s very much a throwback to the cold, calculating psychological dramas of the 80s, where mood and setting counted for as much, if not more than, plot and character.
Bloom plays Dr. Martin Blake, a new resident trying to make a path for himself in a new environment that seems to be at odds with the way he thought life would go. He seems to be pegged back by this fact, and moves through life without attachment. He has no relationships, and is far from his parents, living in an empty, practical apartment, with a small, practical car. The only thing on his living room wall is his diploma. It’s as if he’s geared his life towards this idea of being a doctor to such a fine degree that it’s all he’s ever attained. To that end though, it’s incomplete. All he can do is his rounds. He can’t even play golf.
When Martin is asked by his supervisor, Dr. Waylans (Rob Morrow -- though I pretended was still playing Dr. Fleishman here), when he knew he wanted to be a doctor, he tells about being young, seeing a family friend who was a doctor afforded a great amount of respect and being impressed by that. But there are harsh realities to his dream to deal with. Hospitals don’t run like they’re supposed do: doctors, it turns out, are not gods, and nurses (like Taraji P. Henson's Nurse Theresa), it turns out, are not nursemaids, and push back against him. The pushback is something he comes to resent them for, and becomes convinced they are out to get him, hiding facts about patients that cause him to misdiagnose.
But in Diane (Riley Keogh), he finds the perfect patient to play doctor to. She’s young, attractive, and most importantly, she’s not that sick. She is less jeopardy to treat, and more, she puts himself so easily into his hands to turn him into the rescuer, even spilling her guts about her boyfriend to him. It’s a safe, satisfying situation, one Martin goes to a selfish, miserable end to keep, as he dilutes he meds in order to keep her just sick enough to help her get well, leading him down a dangerous path of deceit and betrayal as his new skills as a doctor may not be up to the level he thinks they are.
It’s a sound, compelling film, one that doesn’t dazzle or shock, but keeps you engaged and manages to make you twist a little as Martin falls deeper into his own ego. In perhaps the strangest twist, we find that Orlando Bloom might actually be a good actor as he gets away from period epics and playing suicidal sneaker executives (although up next for him is another turn as Legolas in The Hobbit). The one thing that gives me pause cementing this opinion of Bloom is Martin’s general character. Like his apartment, he’s a shell. His character is about not feeling great emotion. Even his feelings for Diane are not properly great emotions, they are hemmed in and turned into something ugly by his distorted emotional center. Still, taken in a vacuum, it’s a sterling performance by Bloom, and with the upcoming lesbian vampire film, Jack and Diane, Riley Keogh is one to look out for as well.