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The God Committee
Review by Rich Cline |
dir-scr Austin Stark
prd Molly Conners, Amanda Bowers, Jonathan Rubenstein, Ari Pinchot, Jane Oster, Vincent Morano
with Kelsey Grammer, Julia Stiles, Colman Domingo, Janeane Garofalo, Dan Hedaya, Motell Foster, Patricia R Floyd, Peter Kim, Elizabeth Masucci, Jackson Thurtle, Patricia Mauceri, Kyle T Moore
release US 2.Jul.21
Is it streaming?
Centring a group of people tasked with deciding who gets what organ transplants, this dark drama is packed with meaty moral ideas and a fatalistic sensibility. Writer-director Austin Stark lets this play out with a powerful sense of the dilemmas these people face every day. It's also somewhat annoying that the script deliberately withholds one key plot point in order to sustain its dense and sometimes awkward dual-timeline structure.
In New York, doctors Andre and Jordan (Grammer and Stile) are secretly having an affair when they learn that a donor heart is on its way. With just an hour to decide between three needy patients, Andre and Jordan's transplant committee colleagues include administrator Valerie (Garofalo), an ex-lawyer priest (Domingo) and a psychiatrist (Kim). Seven years later, Jordan is still grappling with life-and-death decisions, while Andre has a private business that's on the verge of a solution to the organ shortfall. Everyone is still conflicted. And there are urgent decisions that need to be made.
It's chilling to watch the committee weigh the pros and cons of each patient, quantifying whether someone is worthy of having their lives extended. In the flashback timeline, most scenes centre on board politics. Then in the present day, there's an irony overload as Andre needs a new heart and his best hope is the wealthy father (Hedaya) of one of the needy patients from seven years earlier. Frustratingly, there are so few visual clues between the two timelines that it's tricky to remember which one we're watching.
Grammer is solid in a rare dramatic role, a flawed genius trying to do the right thing. Andre's past with Jordan feels somewhat ridiculous, but their connection adds messy textures to events that unfold in both timelines. Stiles has nicely grounded presence as the capable Jordan, a conflicted professional who works through her own issues to make difficult decisions. Of the supporting cast, the unsurprising standout is Domingo, who shines as a committee member with an intriguingly varied perspective.
There are murky machinations and melodramatic twists along the way, including a casual bombshell about halfway in that leaves a faint sense of dread about where this is headed. Thankfully, it also offers further grist for the actors to chew on, along with ongoing pointed discussions that attempt to place a value on human life. All while a countdown clock adds suspense by reminding us that the organ will no longer be viable if these doctors keep dithering.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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