Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal Communication

The Doctor

The Doctor (1991)
William Hurt as Jack
Christine Lahti as Anne
Elizabeth Perkins as June
Mandy Patinkin as Murray
Adam Arkin as Eli
Wendy Crewson as Dr. Abbott
Directed by
Randa Haines
Produced by
Laura Ziskin
Photographed by
John Seale
Written by
Robert Caswell
Edited by
Bruce Green
Lisa Fruchtman
Music by
Michael Convertino
128 minutes
 |  Roger Ebert
July 24, 1991   |   Print Page
Anyone who has ever been through the medical system - even with the very best of treatment - will identify with this film. “The Doctor” tells the story of an aloof, self-centered heart surgeon who treats his patients like names on a list. Then he gets sick himself, and doesn't like it one bit when he's treated like a mere patient.

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“It may interest you to know that I happen to be a resident surgeon on the staff of this hospital!” he barks at a nurse who wants him to fill out some forms just like the ones he has already filled out. He still has to fill out the forms.
The role is played in a detailed, observant way by William Hurt, who is able to make this egocentric surgeon into a convincing human being. In the wrong hands, this material could have been simply a cautionary tale, but Hurt and his director, Randa Haines, who also collaborated on “Children of a Lesser God,” make it into the story of a specific, flawed, fascinating human being.
As the movie opens, Hurt plays rock 'n' roll into his operating theater while literally holding the hearts of his patients in his hands. He leads a comfortable life in Marin County, Calif., with his wife (Christine Lahti) and two sons, but is not very close to his family. (In one revealing scene, he's standing in the living room when a son races in. “Say hello to your father,” Lahti says, and the kid automatically picks up the phone.) In his lectures to the interns at the hospital, Hurt warns that personal feelings have nothing to do with the science of medicine....

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