Tag Archives: Janeane Garofalo

Playing God

The God Committee

by Rachel Willis

Based on the play by Mark St. Germain and adapted for the screen by writer/director Austin Stark, The God Committee seeks to provide insight into the fraught decisions behind who lives and who dies when it comes to organ transplants.

A new heart is recently available for the St. Augustine Hospital, a building in disrepair and under renovation, and the transplant committee convenes to decide who among three matches is the worthiest to receive the heart. The committee has a paltry 90 minutes to make their decision or else the heart will be useless.

The initial set-up alone is worthy of an entire film, but the movie isn’t satisfied to stay within the confines of a sterile boardroom. The timeline jumps forward seven years to check-in on our committee, primarily Dr. Andre Boxer (Kelsey Grammer), and how the implications of their decision on that fateful day have affected them.

By moving back and forth between the past and present, the tension of those crucial 90 minutes is often interrupted. However, by weaving the present into the past, we get to know the people behind these decisions.  

Grammer excels on screen as the pragmatic Boxer, basing his judgments on the medical data rather than emotion. As his foil, Dr. Jordan Taylor (Julia Styles) relies on her heart to guide her decision-making. Unfortunately, Styles can’t quite match the passion of Grammer. The other members of the committee, which include Janeane Garofalo and Colman Domingo, aren’t given as much to work with and don’t resonate on screen in the same way.

The play lends itself well to film, and Stark handily adapts the source material. There are a few moments that remind us this is an adaption of a play – mainly, characters who talk to the screen. This might have worked better had it been transitioned from audience-directed monologue into character-driven dialogue, as it would have heightened the conflict inside the boardroom.

The film touches on numerous thematic issues: the ethics of deciding who is worthy of a transplant, the conjunction of corporatism and life-saving medical research, the inequity of medical care across racial and class lines, black market trade in organs, etc. Unfortunately, The God Committee never settles on any of them, careening across multiple threads without any direction.

If the movie had stuck to a theme and a timeline, it might have been more impactful.

Paradise Found

Come As You Are

by Cat McAlpine

Come As You Are follows three men on a quest to get laid at a Canadian brothel, La Chateau Paradis, that caters to people like them. Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) is a paraplegic who was “born this way, baby.” Matt (Hayden Szeto) is an ex-boxer fighting a degenerative disease. Mo (Ravi Patel) is visually impaired. Collectively, their biggest hindrance is that they all still live with their mothers.

After one hilarious caper, a cop stops Scotty, Matt, and Mo as they slowly make their way along the shoulder of the highway. He looks at the three men and says:

“My cousin’s brother-in-law has Down syndrome so…I know.”

Sometimes, this film is about life as a person with disabilities. Mostly, though,Come As You Are is just about life as a person. The natural flow between these perspectives takes a raunchy boy’s trip and turns it into a heartwarming slice of life film about making friends, believing in yourself, and defining exactly what your life is supposed to be.

Come As You Are is the English remake of 2011’s Belgian Hasta la Vista (dir. Geoffrey Enthoven), and while I haven’t seen Enthoven’s original, it’s worth the effort to bring this film to American audiences. Sorry, Bong Joon-ho, I guess we’re still warming up to subtitles.

This 2019 edition is directed by Richard Wong, who has more cinematography credits than directorial. That experience shows in the film’s easy movement between steady and handheld shots. Wong’s vision expertly highlights how monumentally huge small inconveniences can be. At times, Scotty’s confinement to his chair leads to hilarious antics. Other times, it’s a horrific prison. Wong looks at both sides of every coin in a valiant effort to show the bigger picture.

Come As You Are boasts a diverse cast, a good script, and great performances. The best performance is from Rosenmeyer, whose unflinching cynicism and peeks at vulnerability are masterfully done. The other stand-out performance comes from Janeane Garofalo as Scotty’s mother who, for better or worse, cannot shut up.

Szeto and Patel both deliver quieter performances that gracefully grow with their character’s arcs. Patel particularly does a fantastic job of revealing the complexities behind his Coke-bottle glasses.

Some may find the final awkwardly funny scene misplaced after the narrative has moved to deeper material. I found it tonally perfect and more human than abandoning the characters and circumstances we started with.

Come As You Are is bitter, funny, tender, and worth the watch.