THEY CALL ME DR. MIAMI -- An Entertaining Look at the Life of One of the World's Most Unexpected Celebrities
Review by Sean Boelman
Exploring one of the most surprising viral sensations of the social media generation, They Call Me Dr. Miami is an extremely entertaining documentary. Taking a surprisingly nuanced approach to its subject, Jean-Simon Chartier’s documentary is by no means an average biography.
The film tells the story of Dr. Michael Salzhauer, better known as Dr. Miami, a plastic surgeon who broadcasts his procedures over Snapchat and has created an extravagant persona around his practice. Plastic surgery is already interesting in and of itself, but the story of someone who became a celebrity because of it is even more intriguing.
Arguably what Chartier does best with his movie is creating the dichotomy between Dr. Michael Salzhauer and Dr. Miami. There’s definitely a very clear division between who Salzhauer is when he’s on the clock and when he’s at home, and the film does a good job of using this to humanize him as the subject of the documentary.
The main focus of the movie is exploring the ethical implications of Salzhauer’s live streams. Interviews with competing surgeons expose some of the concerns that the medical field has about his unorthodox methods, and Salzhauer is given the opportunity to defend himself and his practice. Ultimately, the decision is left up to the viewer as to whether he is right or wrong.
That said, the film also explores Salzhauer’s desire to maintain his family life despite his newfound notoriety. Some of the most interesting moments of the movie explore the relationship that Salzhauer has with his religion and how other individuals within his community look upon his career and public image.
Clocking in under an hour and twenty minutes long, the film is quite short, and at times feels a bit rushed. There truly is a wealth of material here for Chartier to explore, and while what he does look into is absolutely fascinating, there are certainly areas of Salzhauer’s life that could have been explored in more depth.
As one would expect, the movie is shot in a very flashy and stylistic manner, which is fitting given the nature of its subject’s online presence. In addition to interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage, Chartier incorporates footage from Salzhauer’s real Snapchat videos. The result is a film that is true-to-form enough to appeal to fans and informative enough to draw in outsiders.
They Call Me Dr. Miami is one of the more unusual documentaries that was set to appear on the festival circuit this year, and as a result, it’s pretty fascinating. Apart from those who are squeamish (there is some graphic plastic surgery footage included), this documentary seems like it has the potential to catch on with audiences.
They Call Me Dr. Miami was set to screen at the cancelled 2020 Miami Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution.