Hippocrates loses its nerve with a facile climax that betrays the depth of what precedes it, yet there are few things more fascinating than when competent professionals disagree, especially if we appreciate the source of their impasse.
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While the story arc of Hippocrates is not especially remarkable, the film works best in its depiction of life in the bowels of the hospital, which the public never visits.
A sobering look at the bureaucratic trials and life-and-death decisions rookie doctors face on their daily rounds.
It’s Kateb -- a rising star with three films in Cannes this year -- who steals the show, portraying a man whose professionalism and humanity are constantly thwarted by the other staff members, especially the Gallic natives that don't have to jump through the same hoops he does.
Hippocrates unfolds pretty much like an average episode of “ER,” though with more French flag waving and less storeroom romancing.
The result may honour the daily reality of medical professionals – the finale’s a credibly fractious staff meeting – but it makes for a patchy, hesitant dispatch, more “er …” than ER.
Thorny issues regarding patient-caregiver relationships, cost-vs.-care tensions, and morality-vs.-rules dynamics are handled with a minimum of didacticism by Lilti, whose handheld camerawork provides a measure of immediacy without calling undue attention to itself.
Director and co-writer Thomas Lilti's mistake, though, is thinking the bland Benjamin's coming of age concerns are worth so much screen time. The sturdier character study in Hippocrates is of soulful, beleaguered Algerian-born Abdel (Reda Kateb).
While it has considerable charms, Hippocrates is just too predictable.