Medicine man – The Good Doctor review

The Good Doctor – Starring Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, and Rob Morrow. Directed by Lance Daly. Rated M. By Richard Haridy.

Orlando Bloom breaks bad in The Good Doctor, a mildly diverting thriller that soft-pedals its weirdness resulting in an oddly neutered experience. Bloom is Martin Blake, a young student doctor in the first year of his residency; he’s one part Zach Braff in Scrubs, one part Noah Wyle in ER, and a big side serve of crazy. Blake is an obsessive loner whose motivations are never really explained and as he begins to develop an unhealthy fondness for Diane (Riley Keough), an 18-year-old patient with a kidney infection, we start to see some sociopathic tendencies arise in the ‘good doctor’.

The nature of Dr. Blake’s obsession with Diane is one of the many things left frustratingly unexplained. We are never entirely sure if his fixation is sexually orientated or merely a power-trip as he begins to manipulate her treatment in order to keep her unwell. Bloom admirably stretches himself in the role of creepy psycho but frequently his performance offers up a mixed message. As Dr Blake digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole, we aren’t sure whether he is genuinely crazy or just an emotionally troubled man who got himself into a sticky situation.

Ultimately, the film reveals itself to be a character study along the lines of the superior One Hour Photo, though the muddled tone of Bloom’s performance and Lance Daly’s direction leaves one more confused than disconcerted. Whether by accident or design the picture never pushes the creepiness of Bloom’s doctor far enough to make the experience wholly effective, with Daly relying on a European-styled chilly minimalism that distances rather than disturbs.

Solid supporting turns from Rob Morrow and Michael Peña add some much needed colour while a brisk running time means the movie never overstays its welcome. In the end, however, The Good Doctor never hits the intense, discomforting heights it is aiming for. It’s fun to watch Bloom stretch his legs with a sinister role though; given the right material, this guy could really be a devastatingly disturbing screen presence.

3/5

The Good Doctor is available on DVD in Australia from November 14, 2012.

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