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MICHAEL CRICHTON DIRECTS COMA

year: 1978 cast: Geneviève Bujold, Michael Douglas, Richard Widmark, Elizabeth Ashley rating: ***1/2
The best damsels in distress are those tough cookies in complete denial of being damsels. Geneviève Bujold is Dr. Susan Wheeler who, with a chip on her shoulder about being the only woman doctor in an old school men's club type hospital, has a kneejerk reaction for anything easygoing boyfriend Dr. Mark Bellows, played by Michael Douglas, has to say, especially: “Can you get me a beer?”

Cameo Tom Selleck would star in a MC film soon
Her feelings of insecurity are shielded with a narrowed countenance – the pushy feminist views make it difficult to feel for her character...

But wait… Patients at the hospital, including her best friend, are slipping into comas forgoing simple operations, and she sets out to investigate. Here’s where Susan becomes more relatable and the story begins to roll. Novelist turned director Michael Crichton has a mechanical approach to directing films that, whether written by himself or in this case author Robin Cook, are intentionally farfetched.

SCORE: ***1/2
When Susan gets in over her head, searching through files in the hospital and eventually finding the place where the patients are being sent, the suspense peaks a bit too easily: in one scene she overhears two maintenance men discussing everything she – and the audience – needs to know i.e. what the comatose bodies (suspended in a spooky warehouse and overseen by steely-eyed Elizabeth Ashley) are used for.

With thirty minutes left it’s all about Susan escaping with her life in scenes liken to an edgy TV crime show. It’s when she goes under the knife of chief surgeon Richard Widmark that the fingernails are worth biting – this also provides the backseat Douglas a chance to possibly save a stubborn, reluctant heroine who finally needs saving.
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1 comment:

  1. Ah COMA. I saw it first week it was out in the movie theaters. I dug it and forgot about it for years until I came across it again and was SHOCKED! Shocked I tell you, that it was Michael Crichton of all people who directed it. Sometimes I love Michael Crichton novels, such as RISING SUN and DISCLOSURE (dug the movie of RISING SUN as well, the movie for DISCLOSURE...not so much, I thought it annoying - but the book I loved), sometimes I dig his movies. I never read the Jurassic Park novels for one reason or another although I owned them but I loved the first movie.

    Anywwho...good review sir.

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