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Review: The Good Doctor

Aug. 30, 2012by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: Ambitious young doctor Martin Blake is a lonely man, having little in the way of meaningful human contact, outside of his work. When he's given the responsibility for caring for a sick young woman, he finds himself drawn to her. Eventually, he finds that he needs to have her in his life, and will do anything to keep her.

I can't really remember the last time we saw Orlando Bloom in a movie. Seems like it has been years, doesn't it? For a while regarded as a charismatic potential A-lister, the actor has thoroughly vanished from view after he wrapped up his PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN duties in 2007 (he's shown up in a handful of indie flicks since). It could be because Bloom was, to be perfectly frank, better at looking handsome than actually acting, but his latest role might change some perceptions.

In THE GOOD DOCTOR, Bloom plays Dr. Martin Blake, a Brit doing his residency in a California hospital. Dr. Blake is an odd one. He lives a life of quiet solitude; even though he's new to the states, it seems clear that he's always been a friend-less man. He is demeanor is slightly off-putting; he doesn't quite know how to communicate with people, and his relationships with his co-workers are either superficially cordial or strained. He yearns for respect, to achieve an elite status, but one gets the sense that even reaching his loftiest of goals would still leave him a hollow person.

Some light shines on Blake's monotonous existence when Diane (Riley Keough), a sweet-faced teenager, is admitted to the hospital with a kidney infection. Diane looks at Blake with an innocent neediness that suddenly gives his life meaning, and after a few days of soaking up her very presence, Blake is troubled when it looks like she's going to get better and finish up her stay. For the pathological - and rather pathetic - Blake, this simply cannot happen. Blake then goes about committing a series of ruthlessly selfish acts to ensure Diane will keep on needing him.

THE GOOD DOCTOR can't be called a thriller, exactly, although it's hard to say what it would be otherwise. It presents us with an unsympathetic character who is capable of terrible things, although he's almost too peculiar and aloof to be called a villain. I might be more accurate to label it a dark comedy, as director Lance Daly certainly inserts a cynical attitude within the film. One of the more clever touches is that no matter how increasingly shady Blake's behavior becomes, the more trusted and rewarded he is by his clueless colleagues.

Structurally, THE GOOD DOCTOR is a mixed bag. It begins rather blandly, resembling a pilot episode of forgettable network doctor drama. However, the film gains momentum during its second act, as we uncomfortably watch the lengths Blake will go through to keep Diane close to him. When a major event upsets his makeshift "romance," THE GOOD DOCTOR changes gears, and the final third loses the creepy intrigue of Blake's obsession by delving into a blackmail scheme perpetrated by a sneaky orderly (Michael Pena, entertaining as always). This turn of events isn't nearly as interesting as what came before it, and the film doesn't end on a wholly satisfying note.

Daly has assembled a strong supporting cast of reliable names, including Pena, Rob Morrow, Taraji P. Henson and J.K. Simmons., to balance out the Blake character's weirdness, but it's Orlando Bloom's show all the way (he also executive produced). Blake is such a mystery to us, and perhaps even himself, that it's hard to know if he's a straight-up sociopath, a callous social climber or just a sad loner desperate for human contact. It's a challenging part, to be sure, and Bloom proves he's up to the task.

Extra Tidbit: THE GOOD DOCTOR opens theatrically on AUGUST 31st. It is currently available on VOD.
Source: JoBlo.com

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