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With Jim Sabatini

The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor
Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Taraji P. Henderson, Michael Pena, J.K. Simmons and Wade Williams

Rated: PG-13 on appeal for thematic material, disturbing situations and some crude sexual content.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 31, 2012 Released by: Magnolia Pictures

A chance for the appealing English actor Orlando Bloom (here also an Executive Producer) to step away from larger budgeted studio action fare (he'll be back in familiar Middle Earth territory at year's end in Peter Jackson's upcoming saga The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) is this somewhat gripping, if far-fetching darkly low-budgeted Southern California-based neo-thriller that has already made its way to some viewers through VOD.
The Good Doctor (where Bloom appears in nearly every scene) shouldn't be available to hospital patients based on the character that Bloom elucidates through ambition and anxiety; the irony eponymously felt graduates with 'Lolita' overtones through Bloom's Dr. Martin Blake (a biochemistry major) in his first year of residency "wanting to help people as well as looking for respect."
How well Bloom earns one's empathy will be factor in the enjoyment of what looks to be more suited to the small-screen; maybe too colorless in spite of its imaginative, sometimes intense, yet diffident protagonist.
The connection of Dr. Blake with kidney-infection patient Diane Nixon (Riley Keough of Magic Mike and The Runaways) forms the crux of a tale where there is tension with chief nurse Theresa (Taraji P. Henson), his internal medicine boss Dr. Waylans, a fidgeting Rob Morrow, as well as a ruthlessly good-natured orderly Jimmy (a piquantly witty Michael Pena of 30 Minutes or Less, Everything Must Go). Especially after Diane is readmitted to the hospital after having gotten better and gone home; Diane's family even welcomed Martin into their home for dinner with a promising catch in their other daughter Valerie (Sorel Carradine).
Troy Garity as a best-friend colleague, J.K. Simmons as a detective and Wade Williams as Diane's dad, round out the main cast in a tale that uses obsession as a means to foster love and care to unnerving ends. Director Lance Daly seems to have a pretty solid handle on pretty grim material (maybe carried out better in a Robin Williams vehicle like One Hour Photo; Bloom's hair is nearly as incredulous as some of  Dr. Blake's derring-do. Still, it's hard not to allot Bloom a certain fulsome praise based on many of his earlier impassive characterizations because of his internalization of holding through to his dutiful commitment at the expense of even someone else in the hospital rather privy to what is going happening.
The modus operandi, in the end, for Daly and writer John Enbom to have Diane in Martin's reach may not unfold with the kind of devilish, larcenous dividends from professional conflict and personal willfulness. At least for a while, though, The Good Doctor is suitably involving and edgy in navigating through harm's jaded way.

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