Critical Care

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

This fascinating, thought provoking drama addresses the issue of artificially sustaining the life of seriously ill hospital patients. It takes place in a large urban hospital where one of the attending physicians is young Dr. Werner Ernst (James Spader) . Unfortunately he gets involved sexually with the attractive daughter (Kyra Sedgwick) of one of the terminally ill patients. She stands to inherit $10 million if her father passes away in the near future so she tries to blackmail Dr. Ernst into letting him die. Her supposedly born again Christian sister (Margo Martindale) also wants the money and will inherit it if her father lives on. In a very clever plot twist, Werner devises a scheme to satisfy the greed of the two sisters and keep his reputation in tact. Another clever plot device involves an imaginary doctor and a nun who speaks to Werner and a dying patient on occasions. The net effect is a very engrossing movie going experience.

The imaginary nun tells Werner that he should make his decisions about prolonging his patients' lives based on love. The nun also says that suffering can be positive because one who has suffered can sympathize with those who are suffering. One of the nurses (Helen Mirren) has real compassion for her patients, and feels justified in turning off the support system to one of her patients who wants to die. Dr. Werner also allows a comatose patient to die whom he believes has no chance of survival. These are controversial decisions, but are portrayed as acceptable acts of mercy. A question is also raised about the large sums of money spent on seemingly hopeless patients. And one of the callous doctors shows strong favoritism to patients with ample insurance. Intermingled with these moral issues is an explicit bedroom sexual encounter between Werner and Felicia including near nudity and passionate kissing and caressing. And a number of obscenities and some profanities are spoken by the doctors, patients, and others. These unfortunate crudities and the sex scene seriously mar this thought provoking movie.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Live Entertainment, 15400 Sherman Way, Ste. 500, Van Nuys, CA 91410

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (6) times - Mild 5, Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Many (13) times - F-word 7, s-word 5, One finger gesture

Profanity: Several (5) times - Regular 4 (GD); Exclamatory 1 (My God)

Violence: None

Sex: Implied once from bedroom sounds

Nudity: None; Near nudity - Few times (Woman in revealing underwear and swim suit)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (Slang reference to male genitals, woman seduces man with sensual movements, man takes off pants, man and woman kiss and caress passionately, video replay of kissing and carressing)

Drugs: Doctor drinks liquor in his off

Other: Religious woman portrayed as fanatic, nurse shows breast to patient (not audience), euthanasia and health insurance issues addressed, erroneous ways to gain access to heaven stated)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.