Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sublime (2007)

I hate hospitals. Their smell, the sterile, clinical feeling, and the sadness that pervades them and their food – it all creeps me out. People go to hospitals because they are sick, they are not healthy or they are close to dying. You go to a hospital when you’re in pain and it’s there you are your most vulnerable. Not to mention that a million things can go wrong when you are under someone else’s care…you can be given the wrong medication, put through the wrong surgery and so on. Sublime only heightens my loathing of hospitals…

After his 40th birthday, George (Thomas Cavanagh) is scheduled for a routine colonoscopy at the hospital. After coming out of surgery, George realizes something is horribly wrong. There is an incision in his side and he’s in more pain that he should be in. When the doctor finally arrives it is revealed that an error was made and instead of a colonoscopy he received a surgery meant to stop sweaty palms. While George is in the hospital until everything is worked out, he begins to notice strange things. First of all, the patient next to him is murdered by a red bow tie wearing black man named Mandingo (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs). Secondly, something is not right with the East Wing of the hospital either, which has been abandoned for a long time. His nurse, Zoe (Katherine Cunningham-Eves), tries to help him solve what is going on while his family begins to worry about his erratic behavior. As if those things weren’t enough to worry about, the doctors tell George that other infections have developed in his body. Can George figure out what is happening before it is too late?

Sublime was an interesting film, though I felt it lagged in certain spots. Certainly the most interesting thing about it was the socio-political statement(s) it made. The none-too-subtle points of view touched on everything from “white man’s guilt” and racism to the American healthcare and insurance systems to mass consumption and consumerism. It is chock full of metaphors, symbolism and messages on a whole mess of different subjects. While I feel like they tried to cover too much, I also understand why this was necessary as they are trying to show George’s many different fears and worries.

This is a very thoughtful, slow-paced film that explores George’s predicament through a kind of morphine haze. Things may be urgent, but the film still moves at a languid pace. George himself is also very groggy throughout the film, giving it the feel of a waking nightmare. The lack of action will frustrate some viewers and even I got itchy for the fast forward button at times. I do feel that things could have been made more interesting and moved a bit more quickly to hold my attention better.

The acting is all solid, though like the film’s tone, the acting is, for the most part, subdued. Thomas Cavanagh (George) plays the middle-aged, upper class, white-bread lead as an empty shell. He thinks wealth will make him and his wife happy, but realizes through his hospital stay that material things cannot bring fulfillment. I thought he played his part very well and echoed the sentiments of a generation that feel empty and are looking for fulfillment (and love) in all the wrong places. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs gave a commanding performance as Mandingo, the black nurse that terrorizes George. He was creepy and compelling at the same time. His performance was definitely one of the best in the film, especially toward the end.

Speaking of the end, it features a cringe-worthy scene involving garden shears and pinky toes. The film’s focus is not on gore, though, and there are only one or two scenes that might make you wince a little. Still, we get to see a lot of incisions, stitched-up cuts, blood and even a necrotic leg.

If you are looking for a different kind of horror film, one that has plenty of social commentary and moves a little slower than most while still packing a punch, I suggest checking out Sublime. If you have a short attention span and want brainless fun, skip this one, because it’ll have you thinking during and after the film!

Available on Amazon!

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