Monday, December 12, 2016

The Physician-Movie Review (a second opinion)

Photo credit: IMDB

If you missed the 2013 Noah Gordon, novel based film, The Physician, starring Tom Payne, here's a second opinion from a third time viewer.

God works in mysterious ways says the proverb, and if you cinematically follow this brilliantly told sojourn of an English peasant boy's search for knowledge from 11th century England to Arabianized Jerusalem (implicitly evident yet not named in the film), you will be royally entertained by Phillip Stölzl's surgical scene splicing and directing. Novices just remember this--the first cut is the deepest.

What I mean is that the movie opens up in rural England during the so called "Dark Ages" and shows us, quite harshly, what life, love and death were like in a church dominated culture of blind legalists and misguided literalists, religious bureaucrats who forbade autopsies and kept all truths buried under sackcloth purchased from sinful indulgences-hard earned pennies that child labor and poverty forced prostitution imposes on the poor and oppressed. Some things never change.

Tom Payne plays Rob Cole, an orphan boy who breaks rocks all day just for half a loaf of bread to take home to his fatherless family when a 'barber', colorfully portrayed by Swedish born, Stellan Starsgård, rolls through town pitching snake oil. Cole's mother dies that night from 'side sickness', or gall bladder disease, and the desperate boy latches on to the barber for a journey of a lifetime, at first through England and then through France on foot, finally arriving in Palestine via Egypt and an unforgettable desert caravan road trip that introduces him to his future wife, played by the charming and cute, Emma Rigby. Add the iconic, Ben Kingsley, to this talented cast and you have an ensemble epic that transcends Handel's "Messiah" (in the prophetically and visionary sense).
Emma Rigby 2016

The voluntary suspension of disbelief comes easy in this movie, so it's not a far stretch to suggest that Kingsley's character, the legendary Jewish healer, Ibn Sina, is loosely based upon the historical figure, Maimonides. Rob Cole gets a spot in his school exclusively reserved for the princes of Persia solely because of his visible passion and thirst for medical knowledge and power-medicine for medicine's sake, if you will.
Olivier Martinez

You can follow this hero's epic journey that resolves itself in glory, both royally as with Cole's unlikely befriending by the shah handsomely played by, Olivier Martinez, or quietly between brothers-from-a-different-mother and rival student, Karim (Elyas M'Barek).
The cinematic grandeur compared and contrasted with intensely dramatic compact universal life moments is screen played  superbly by reclusive German writer,  Jan Berger (contact agent: ), rounds out a thinking, almost experiential, movie lover's night in. Follow my reviews and other wordy considerations on Twitter