26th Jul2021

‘The God Committee’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kelsey Grammer, Julia Stiles, Colman Domingo, Janeane Garofalo, Dan Hedaya, Patricia R. Floyd, Peter Kim, Motell Gyn Foster, Patricia Mauceri, Kyle Moore, Maurizio Di Meo | Written and Directed by Austin Stark

Who lives, who dies? They decide… Three patients wait to see if they will live or die as a hospital committee decides to grant a lifesaving heart transplant to one of them. Seven years later the committee members struggle with the consequences of that fateful decision.

Austin Stark, director the 2015 political drama The Runner (which starred Nicolas Cage), steps back behind the camera for The God Committee – a film which is based on a stage play by Mark St. Germain which was called a cross between Twelve Angry Men and ER… Which, on paper, and on the stage, makes for an interesting premise. However on film, The God Committee is anything but interesting, instead it’s frustrating.

Frustrating in that the film skips backwards and forward in time, from a meeting of the titular god committee trying to decide who should get a heart transplant after the death of the patient it was meant for, to Kelsey Grammer’s Dr. Andre Boxer trying to secure funding for his experimental procedure growing transplantable organs in animals – something which will do away with the hard decision he faced in the past as part of a god committee. Also frustrating in that Kelsey Grammar is an incredibly unlikeable lead, with ZERO chemistry with co-star Julia Stiles.

The fact Grammer is unlikeable doesn’t matter much in the flashback where he’s debating the merits of who should get the heart – his cold demeanour actually working for the character in a clinical sense, especially when he’s the foil for the likes of Julia Stiles, Patricia R. Floyd, Janeane Garofalo, Peter Kim and Colman Domingo in that “Twelve Angry Men” setting. However when we’re supposed to feel sorry for him in the future, as his own heart is failing on his even as he tries to complete his scientific breakthrough, you just don’t. There’s no way you can feel anything other than disdain for his character, the man is a pompous ass. Period. And don’t get me started on the May to December relationship his character apparently develops with Stiles’ new-to-the-hospital doctor.

You’d think that a film that deals with LITERAL life and death situations would be a sympathetic film; surely it’s supposed to be? Yet The God Committee is anything but. It’s a dark, depressing tale – one that mirrors what Stark did with The Runner. That film didn’t go for the happy ending, the life is worth it/things will get better, style traditional type of Hollywood tale and neither does this. This is bleak. So bleak it’s like watching real life!

It does however show how broken the US medical system is though… And maybe that was the purpose in the end?

The God Committee is available on digital platforms now from Signature Entertainment.

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