Review by Sean Boelman
Although it isn’t a religious-themed film, The God Committee is just about as didactic as one with its ethical deliberations. However, even though it is certainly heavy-handed, Austin Stark’s medical drama is a solid entry into the genre, posing some thought-provoking questions in an intelligent manner.
The movie follows a committee who is given one hour to decide which of three candidates will get the opportunity to receive a life-saving heart transplant. Based on a play by Mark St. Germain, this is a pretty straightforward chamber piece, lacking in nuance but getting its message across in a way that is genuinely effective.
Stark does a great job of creating tension out of the situation even though the eventual outcome is obvious. There is a second timeline occurring seven years after the main events of the film, and it isn’t entirely necessary, only serving to reinforce the emotional beats and ultimately making everything a tad predictable.
It would have been nice to see the movie do a bit more with its commentary on the hypocrisy of the medical system, in addition to the systemic racism that is embedded deep within institutions like these, but these are abandoned in favor of the more basic exploration of right versus wrong as it applies to medical ethics.
The character development in the film is a bit uneven. The protagonist’s arc as a seemingly stolid old guard doctor with secrets of his own is really conventional, but in the secondary storyline, he has a more compelling redemption arc. And as for all of the supporting characters, they are underdeveloped to varying extents.
All of the actors do a very good job in their roles. Kelsey Grammer is at his best in a long time, giving a performance that is reminiscent of his earlier dramatic work rather than the action schlock he has appeared in lately. Julia Stiles and Janeane Garofalo do a good job providing a foil to him. And Colman Domingo is great as always in his small but pivotal supporting role.
In terms of the movie’s execution, it is very limited in scope because of the fact that it is very much a chamber piece. For a film that is set on a ticking clock, the shooting style is surprisingly static. There are some flourishes of style here and there that show what it could have been, but the script is strong enough to keep the viewer invested.
Despite its imperfections, The God Committee manages to be pretty riveting thanks to strong performances all around and a tense script. The medical drama is a genre that is often full of subpar melodrama, and this is a standout among its peers.
The God Committee hits theaters and VOD on July 2.