Review of The Waiting Room

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This film is a documentary that goes behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients.
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Movie Review: "The Waiting Room"

-- Rating: No rating
Length: 81 minutes
Release Date: September 26, 2012
Directed by: Peter Nicks
Genre: Documentary

"The Waiting Room" is an intense documentary about the troubles of America's health care system. Focused on a day at an overworked Oakland hospital, the Peter Nicks directed film paints an image of the revolving door of frustrations, hardships, and more that occur regularly in medical centers. From lack of medical coverage to swamped waiting rooms, patients and providers alike deal with the crushing agony of red tape roadblocks and impossibilities.

This thought-provoking documentary will force viewers to confront the ugliness of the medical industry by showing real people struggling for medical care. With poverty and medical bills crashing together, audiences can empathize with those depicted. Viewers will feel their heart strings tugged at as tears are shed and anger explodes. The film will prove to be an eye-opener for some, as it candidly captures the raw emotion and hopelessness of patients. Hearing the facts is one thing, but seeing a person actively struggling is entirely different.

Nicks effectively pushes viewers to feel compelled to do something without actually shoving the message in their face with propaganda or heavy words. By the sights and sounds of the stories of real people, viewers will feel obligated on their own to try to help or learn more about the situation with health care. This is a rare achievement in documentaries, as many aggressively push their agenda onto the audience, sometimes backfiring and causing the audience to tune out. "The Waiting Room" lays the information cards on the table for viewers and allows them to pick for themselves what they want to do with them.

The film's release is timed perfectly, right before an election, and may push viewers to reassess their views and learn more about the candidates. With the current health care debate at fever pitch, this documentary can serve as a platform for some to educate others on the current health care situation and may even garner attention from higher ups. It's definitely aimed to shine a spotlight on the less fortunate and America's health care system but doesn't make itself out to be a gimmicky documentary aiming to be overtly political or anti-government. This stray off the beaten path makes it a special find in the crop of documentaries.

Another highlight of the film is its focus on those working at the hospital. Doctors and nurses are obviously overworked and frustrated, but the pandemonium of patients and emergencies are dealt with professionally. Order is maintained despite how chaotic things can be. A hospital's staff is clearly its heart, keeping it afloat. This rare glimpse into real-life medical professionals is nice and makes them seem much more human to the outside world.

Doctors and nurses are shown doing their best with the stressful situations at hand, making patients laugh and easing fears. The staff's positivity and warm bedside manner are stark contrasts from the stress and anxiety experienced by those around them. This sliver of compassion and humanity truly goes the extra mile for patients, as many of their worries are relieved and the mood lightens significantly. This added bit of sunshine does a lot for the audience as well, elevating the overall feeling in a timely fashion.

The film doesn't entirely focus on the expenses and troubles of medical care, however. It shows other intense aspects of humanity, including pain and mortality. Real people are confronting their lack of immortality with some experiencing the fear of this realization for the first time. From a rough-and-tumble 20-something man, to a young girl, a variety of patients are being forced to face health scares.

There are plenty of bursts of action from outbursts to emergency scenes. With frustrated patients' plentiful and heart-stopping health situations, viewers can get a sense of the panic and chaos that can erupt in a hospital in the blink of an eye. The drama is real, and certain scenes have tension and anxiety in the air that could be cut with a knife.

The film is gripping and easily holds the attention of the audience, as viewers will feel emotionally invested in patients and their stories. This emotion may prove difficult for some to handle, but it is a definite strength of the film. Nicks' raw shooting style is no fuss and allows viewers to enjoy the film for its substance, not its effects.

The film is worth a trip to see due to its no-nonsense glimpses into the nitty-gritty of the medical industry. Highly emotional and intense, it makes viewers feel the pressure of a hospital from the moment it begins until the credits role.

Rating: 3 out of 5