Overcooked: “Coma” (1978)

           “Coma”  (1978)

     In his debut novel ‘Coma’, Robin Cook presented an unlikely set of circumstances concerning a vast criminal conspiracy within a fictitious Boston hospital, that stretched the very pretense of plausibility as the incidents of mayhem pile up far too rapidlycomaOS to not be noticed by anyone of responsible character or authority. The novel is one of those breathless thrillers that seem to exist outside of the constraints of reality (this is true of most contemporary action movies as well), so that the heroine-  in this case a beautiful (naturally) medical student named Susan Wheeler, whose nose for sniffing out mischief makes her the hospital rounds equivalent of Nancy Drew  -is able to demonstrate abilities enabling her to penetrate the labyrinth of a secretive operation that would baffle seasoned experts, though her alarmist proclivities never extend to thinking of picking up a telephone to the police even as the mysteriously undetected bodies begin piling up at an laughable rate.
    These types of thriller plots operate on what might be best described as the Blind World Principle, in which it is assumed that while the hero/heroine is possessed of the acumen of Sherlock Holmes, the remainder of the characters must be incognizant to anything that goes on about them. Many of these problems are initially addressed and seemingly corrected in Michael Crichton’s filmization, which for the first fifty minutes is an efficiently orchestrated piece of low-key storytelling, keenly reimagining the pulp elements of the novel into a more realistic framework; knowingly playing off of the audience’s inviolable sense of psychological foreboding toward the impersonal environs of a hospital which, ironically, is the arena dedicated to the most coma2personal of bodily intrusions. After such an auspicious first half in which the film is comfortably in the company of the best film procedurals (Bo Widerberg’s “Mannen på taket”, for example), Crichton unaccountably abandons the film’s unaffected verisimilitude (in which the resistance to sensational Hollywood melodrama is similar to that as seen in Alan J. Pakula’s fine thriller, equally imbued with a paranoiac core, “All the President’s Men”) is a case study in a director going spectacularly wrong when not trusting their creative instincts in favor of conceding to the tried and true, but generic, mechanics of constructing a movie thriller. 
To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-sack-cinemas/

About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in books, Boston, medicine, Michael Crichton, Movies, Mystery, Richard Widmark, Romance, women, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Overcooked: “Coma” (1978)

  1. beetleypete says:

    I really enjoyed the book, so eagerly anticipated the film. But “Oh no, Bujold!”
    She ruined it for me.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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