“The Good Doctor”
Susan Granger’s review of “The Good Doctor” (Magnolia Pictures)
Dr. Martin Blake (Orlando Bloom) turns the essence of the Hippocratic Oath – “First, do no harm…” – into hypocrisy in Lance Daly’s creepy psychological thriller.
Newly arrived in Southern California from England to begin his first year of internal medicine residency, ambitious Dr. Martin Blake is annoyed when he can barely comprehend a Hispanic patient’s medical complaint which results in his making a mistake with the man’s medication. So in order to impress Chief Resident Waylans (Rob Morrow), his colleague Dan (Troy Garity) and the vigilant, no-nonsense floor nurse Theresa (Taraji P. Henson), he concentrates on flirtatious Diane Nixon (Riley Keough), a pretty, blue-eyed, blond 18 year-old with a kidney infection. Guilelessly, she confides in him about troubles with her boy-friend. When Diane’s grateful family invites shy, lonely Dr. Blake to their home for dinner, he deliberately tampers with the medication in her medicine cabinet, so that she will have a relapse and return to the hospital, where her condition gradually worsens. When Blake discovers Jimmy (Michael Pena), an insolent, larcenous orderly, having sex in the supply room, Jimmy counters with evidence of Blake’s malfeasance and blackmails him with persistent demands for the prescription painkiller Oxycodone. So Blake poisons him, making the homicide look like an ‘accident.’ Nevertheless, that arouses the suspicion of a local detective (J.K. Simmons) who visits Blake at his sterile, sparsely furnished beachside apartment but facile, poker-faced Dr. Blake resolutely maintains his innocence.
Ambiguously scripted as a black comedy by John Enborn (“Veronica Mars”) and directed with cautious irony by Lance Daly (“Kisses”), it’s obviously about the ruthless, amoral obsession of a sociopath. But, as portrayed by Orlando Bloom, reticent, ever-courteous Dr. Blake is so inexplicably cold and elusive that it’s difficult to sustain interest in him an evil protagonist. Conversely, it’s interesting to look for traces of Elvis in the face of Diane Keough, daughter of singer Lisa Marie Presley.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Good Doctor” is a suspenseful, sinister 6, making one wary of checking into a hospital.