FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE GOD COMMITTEE, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
The official trailer for The God Committee dropped two weeks ago and it immediately skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated films of the year. The ensemble cast was filled with underutilized, but outstanding performers. All of whom deserve more meaty roles like the ones that appeared to be in this film. It also looked like a very tense, methodical thriller with undertones of morality and social justice at hand. And while I do not think this is an outright flop, I couldn’t help, but feel like The God Committee never took advantage of its promising premise.
WHAT IS THE FILM ABOUT?
The film follows Dr. Andre Boxer and Dr. Jordan Taylor, two members of a committee that decide who in their hospital (based on overall health and other attributes like their support system, job, social class, and insurance) get the opportunity to receive an organ that will save their lives. Boxer and Taylor, are also seeing each other in secret. This adds a conflict of interest into the mix, although their ideals are much different. One day a heart arrives at the hospital and the committee must band together to decide which one of three individuals receive the organ. Fast-forward seven years into the future, as Boxer is dying and needs a heart transplant to keep him alive and give him enough time to finish his groundbreaking research.
WHAT WORKS IN THE GOD COMMITTEE?
As the film begins, we are immediately thrust into this heart-pounding (for lack of better words) situation that you wouldn’t wish upon your own worst enemy. All three of these people in line to get this heart have reasons why they should receive it and also issues that could keep them from securing it. The group of five appointed decision-makers file into this small, claustrophobic room to make their choice. This is where The God Committee works, as these doctors race against the clock to make this difficult and important agreement.
CAN IT BE COMPARED TO OTHER FILMS?
I couldn’t help, but think back to the exemplary chamber piece Twelve Angry Men, which breathtakingly took a small, single space, filled it with an ensemble of outstanding performers and allowed the viewer to be a fly-on-the-wall, as they came up with their life-altering verdict. Of course, no one is expecting this to be on the same level as that classic. But The God Committee had a chance to take advantage of this situation and create some potent tension, much like in that groundbreaking film.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES WITH THE MOVIE?
While there are some great scenes here that are nerve-inducing, as they deliberate, I never felt a sense of urgency. These doctors have one hour to make this decision, yet throughout the movie they keep taking lunch and coffee breaks to quibble amongst themselves. It’s impossible for the filmmakers to hold on to the audience’s concentration and retain this tension, if they feel like these character’s don’t have enough respect to take full advantage of these sixty minutes. Every time the characters left the chamber, The God Committee immediately lost its momentum.
The other issue here, is that the film uses the plot device of fast-forwarding and rewinding us back and forth between the year 2014 and 2021. I do appreciate the movie trying to take the events from the past and bring them full circle. But, these scenes in 2021 were never as engaging as the ones that took place in the decision room. It felt like every time writer/director Austin Stark was finally about to reach the level of tension that he so obviously desired, he would force it to dissipate by making the time jump again. I’m not familiar with the play that this film is based off of, so I don’t know if this is how it was originally written or if Stark made this creative decision himself. Either way, it doesn’t work in the film’s favor.
HOW IS THE ENSEMBLE CAST?
The cast is all quite good, even though I think our two leads (Stiles and Grammer) are probably the weakest of the ensemble. I say this just for the sheer fact that the two lack the chemistry needed to make the audience believe that they are not just colleagues, but romantically involved, as well. It is Colman Domingo as the lawyer-turned-reverend Father Dunbar and Law & Order Alum Patricia R. Floyd as Dr. Maryanne Wilkes who are the real stand-outs here. Both of them play conflicted and compelling characters, stealing every scene that they are in. Unfortunately though, they are never given enough time to explore their complexities fully.
IS THE FILM WORTH YOUR TIME?
It’s hard to say if the film is worth your time, as it is pretty much split down the middle for me. The God Committee can be a thoughtful and sobering meditation on our social inequities and moral compasses. It can also be, in certain scenes, an anxiety-driven and nerve-wracking chamber piece. But, the film is constantly getting in its own way, providing a final product that never adds up to the sum of its parts.
The God Committee will be In Theaters and Streaming on VOD Friday, July 2nd.
For more Rants, Reviews and Ramblings, stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.