Hippocrate (Hippocrates, 2014)

This is described on Wikipedia (and indeed on the French film poster pictured here) as in part a comedy, but I can only assume the person who wrote that has a different definition of comedy to me (not that the film is entirely without levity). It feels like an attempt to come to terms with the impact that austerity economics has had on key services like health, via the story of a young doctor (Benjamin, played by the perpetually stroppy-looking Vincent Lacoste) coming to intern at a busy inner-city hospital where his father works, and finding himself in a team pushed to the edge by budgetary cutbacks and pointless bureaucracy. One of the targets of that — and in many ways the heart of the film — is Algerian emigre doctor Abdel Rezzak (played by Reda Kateb), who is older and far more capable than the kids around him, but yet is forced to work on their level due to immigration requirements, not to mention a vague sense of underlying racism. This all comes out incrementally, as the film is more interested in imparting a sense of the day-to-day work that an intern doctor faces — presumably based on the director’s own experience of practising medicine (before he turned to film) — and uses a couple of different cases to draw out the underlying drama. It never fully coheres, and the character arcs of these two doctoral interns (especially the all-too-neat denouement) doesn’t quite feel convincing, but on the whole this is a good, well-made hospital drama, which along the way incidentally pokes fun at other such enterprises (most prominently House, M.D.).

© Le Pacte

Director Thomas Lilti | Writers Pierre Chosson, Baya Kasmi, Julien Lilti and Thomas Lilti | Cinematographer Nicolas Gaurin | Starring Vincent Lacoste, Reda Kateb | Length 102 minutes || Seen at Ciné Lumière, London, Monday 6 July 2015


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