Ambitious medical student Martin Blake (Bloom) is keen to make a good impression during his residency at a US hospital but, naturally, things don’t go entirely to plan.
Having arrived recently in southern California from his native Britain, Martin displays all the symptoms of a fish out of water, as struggles with his demanding workload. However, the timely arrival of enchanting young patient, Diane Nixon, (Keough) gives him the opportunity to shine. He diligently treats Diane’s kidney infection to the huge relief of her family and receives a much-needed ego boost in the process. Diane’s Lolita-like innocence, combined with her raw beauty are the perfect drug for Martin, who soon becomes hopelessly addicted.
The pair embark on a secret romance and put a new spin on the concept of patient-doctor confidentiality. It’s at this point that Martin’s narcissistic, control-freakery starts to reveal itself. Realising that Diane’s treatment has been successful and that she will soon be discharged, Martin resorts to ever more desperate measures to keep her in the hospital and under his spell. This includes tampering with her medicine, deceiving her naive family members and throwing suspicious colleagues off the scent.
With a storyline that unravels at roughly the same pace as Martin’s mental state, there’s little in the way of genuine suspense or drama to keep audiences captivated as the film progresses. At the hospital where the action is almost exclusively set, there’s none of the compassion or collaboration you would expect from the staff. All their actions are marked with a silent hostility as they eye each other up suspiciously for no apparent reason. It seems like a clumsy attempt by the writers to create an air of mystery around the characters, but it falls flat.
In addition, key questions are left unanswered and intriguing characters only partially developed. For example, why does Diane’s family never question the wisdom of inviting their daughter’s doctor round for cosy dinner parties? Why does the snarky nurse with an unexplained hatred for Martin switch from contemptuous to compliant midway through the film?
As the leading man, Bloom is also a disappointment. The wonky script and faintly ludicrous premise are undoubtedly a major handicap, but his performance never really gets into second gear. The film’s only saving grace is the claustrophobic scenes preceding its anti-climactic ending, which briefly raise the pulse and send a shiver down the spine. Ultimately though, a talented young cast has been put to waste in this mediocre medical drama that is flatlining from the outset.