When Ben’s persistent cough turns bloody, he heads to the doctor for help. Once there, he finds out the problem is the sword that is lodged firmly in his chest. It’s more than a slight inconvenience, considering Ben (Jordan Wells) is trying to pass the bar to be a lawyer, and Ben’s health is not improving as no one seems to know what to do to eliminate the problem.
Jesse Stewart’s The S Word works with a darkly dry comic premise that mocks any number of other narratives where someone is suddenly struck by a rare illness as time ticks away on their life; it is played serious despite being absurd. Still, for a film that seems to be very odd and random, it also carries a series of messages, intentional or not; a running gag, which I will not reveal here, winds up underlining one of the motivations of modern medicine, while also pointing out that the “s word” itself can mean more than a few things in the context of the film.
The film does run a little long considering its payoff. It takes its time, at a leisurely pace, and the edit could likely be tightened up. The setup and payoff being the strongest elements of the piece, you could get cutthroat with the middle to cut the time down and bolster the pace, and what was removed wouldn’t make a massive difference to the overall impact.
Overall, The S Word is a unique look at modern medicine. The tone is often dry and straightforward, as a foil to the absurd scenario at the center of the film. It’s a unique experience, perhaps flirting too close to “dull” territory, but it also works in many subtle ways. Or maybe I just want it to, so I found some.
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