Tribeca Review: “The Good Doctor”

“The Good Doctor” stars Orlando Bloom as Dr. Martin Blake, a first year medical resident struggling with the loneliness of being so far from his family back in Australia. He also finds himself racked with doubt after nearly killing a patient and at odds with the head nurse. So when a beautiful young patient, Diane (Riley Keough, aka Elvis' granddaughter), shows him some kindness and begins singing his praises to the other members of the staff, he will do anything to keep her in his care.

It’s a compelling and super creepy idea for a film, but Bloom and director Lance Daly fail to build any tension or suspense as Blake feeds his twin obsessions, Diane and the praise she earns him. But all Blake’s deceptions and machinations happen so matter-of-factly, that it feels a bit dull. Looking back, the lengths to which Blake goes to keep Diane in his care are bananas, but we don’t feel that as the moments unfold.

Once again, Michael Pena gives the best performance of almost any film he’s in. Here, he plays Jimmy, a happy-go-lucky pill-popping sexual predator. When Jimmy discovers that Blake had a relationship with Diane that extended beyond the normal doctor-patient level, he blackmails him, demanding prescription drugs in return for his silence. Pena continues to bring a level of energy and crackle almost unmatched in Hollywood, and yet he continues to be relegated to these tiny rolls. It’s a shame.

Another shame is that Daly didn’t stop Rob Morrow, here playing Blake’s supervisor Dr. Waylans, from using the weird squeaky voice he cooked up for the role. The clear plastic glasses, concert t-shirts and teeth-sucking are all well and good, but the voice is just off, to the point of being occasionally unintelligible.

Bloom, for his part, is blandly understated. Going low-energy was the right choice, but he seems almost narcotized (he’s not), lacking the whiff of desperation the role demands. It’s not until he comes under scrutiny that he shows any flicker of life, by which time it’s too late.

As good as the story is, there are numerous missteps along the way: Honestly, what kind of moron tries to flush a sheaf of paper? If Blake is so put off by the head nurse, there is no way he would’ve survived med school. And for a guy with such a rigid sense of order, Blake is strangely willing to overlook monstrously egregious behavior.

But for all its faults, “The Good Doctor” is exactly the kind of film that should be remade, ‘cuz it very easily could’ve been very good.

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