In the realm of filmmaking, there’s intent and then there’s execution. More on this later.
In Mitchell Rose’s short film Internal Medicine, David Dorfman plays Dr. Barron in this dark, comedy piece about the internal struggle of a doctor has having to interact with patients.
The setting is your typical doctor’s office. Dr. Barron is alone, and seated at his desk. He proceeds to give bad news to an empty chair. With quick edits, Barron goes through several attempts to ease the burden of the negative test results by beating around the bush or some distant sympathy. “Are your affairs in order?” “Let’s see if you and I can’t figure this thing out together.”
Then cut to Dr. Barron outside in the parking lot running in place, stalling as long as he can, while the anxiety of facing patients sets in. I believe “avoidance” is the key word here. And now we move onto a series of broad gesticulations and body movement as a way to shake off the nerves that won’t go away – a performance piece, if you will.
“…dark, comedy piece about the internal struggle of a doctor has having to interact with patients.‘
Overall, Internal Medicine is a study of what they don’t teach you in medical school. It is a simple form; a doctor’s job is to diagnose and cure. But we’re human beings too. While the doctor is the messenger, it’s the patient who has to live with the results of the news. Doctors are not cold robots, but human as well, and the steady stream of reporting life-changing news causes create a physical and emotional strain on any healer.
Bringing humanity into medicine is the short film’s intent, but the execution is the problem. The actions of Dr. Barron is meant to be humorous and thought-provoking, but what we get is more silliness than comedy. It also lacks cleverness to be considered thought-provoking.
Now, one could claim Internal Medicine is not supposed to be filled with jokes, and it’s meant to non-verbally convey a physician’s feelings and emotions. That may be true, but ultimately, the film goes just a level or two beneath the surface when it needed to go even deeper and darker to make an emotional statement. Mitchell Rose knew exactly what message he wanted to convey. Unfortunately, he was four or five drafts away from striking gold.
Internal Medicine (2019) Written and directed by Mitchell Rose. Starring David Dorfman.
4 out of 10 stars