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Critical Care

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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(Feb 18, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

Werner Ernst is a young hospital resident who becomes embroiled in a legal battle between two half-sisters who are fighting over the care of their comatose father.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: James Spader, Kyra Sedgwick, Helen Mirren, Anne Bancroft, Albert Brooks
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Live / Artisan
  • DVD Release Date: February 18, 1998
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0784011192
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,273 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Critical Care" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mian Sukiman on February 23, 2002
Format: DVD
Sidney Lumet directed some classics (Network, Serpico, Dog Day afternoon) but lately none of his movies ever did much of a business (A Stranger among us, Guilty as Sin, Gloria) but this one is surprisingly good. It has wonderful casts that include James Spader, Kyra Sedwick, Helen Mirren and Albert Brooks.
The movie started out like a cheap hospital comedy but along way the way it got serious with issues like health care, insurance, lawsuit and whether it is ethical to let go a patient that has no chance of survival. It is funny and heart warming as well. Given the price of the DVD, it is a must buy. The DVD provided both WS and FS versions of the movie but not much of extra features but for the price, you can't complaint.
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I'm a physician and I thought this was a great commentary on the health care system and not too far off the mark. James Spader gets caught in a catfight between two daughters of a dying man, either of which stands to inherit $10 million, depending on when the old man goes. Helen Mirren is the angel of Mercy/Death who is Spader's Jiminy Cricket. Ed Hermann plays the sleazy hospital attorney, and Albert Brooks is hysterical as an old physician who has the perspective of his many years. His memorable line about physicians: "We used to be gods. Now we are glorified auto mechanics."
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Format: VHS Tape
I thought I wasn't going to like this movie, but I ended up liking it a lot. It started out as a comedy that was pretty silly. But about half way through, the tenor of the movie changed and it became a much more serious look at the ethics of prolonging the life of terminally ill patients. This part of the movie grabbed me and even made me cry as I watched the main character try to sort through the maze of conflicting emotions surrounding a decision of whether or not to terminate a life.
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Director, Sidney Lumet does it again. Inspirational and enlightening, Lumet highlights the struggle between what is right and what is expedient. Lumet focuses on the weakness of expediency, the strength of the almighty dollar, and the pull of conscience (for those who actually recognize that they are endowed with one), always cast aside by profiteers and how the choices are the test of character which most people fail. A great cast: Helen Mirren, James Spader, Kira Sedgewick, Albert Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Ed Herrman, and more, weigh in on profit versus Goodness, "do unto others...".

The issue at hand is one of the great ethical questions of our era pertaining to the technical capacity to keep people "Alive" virtually forever, or let them go to God.

The difficult problem is handled with a fine mix/balance of humor, satire, apoplexy, empathy and commonsense. After seeing it on IFC we bought a copy. Spader is the physician for a comatose man whose two daughters are divided on the issue of maintaining him in a vegetative state or pulling the plug. However, at stake is $10,000,000 (TEN MILLION) which goes to one sister if the plug is pulled and another if it is not. The battle widens when an army of lawyers for the hospital, the doctors, the insurance companies and each sister, weigh-in.
The moral/ethical/financial pinpoints are all exposed (the patient has iron clad insurance, which the hospital loves), and thrown in for good measure are a few mystical experiences in which both Kings of the great beyond struggle for a man's soul, and the souls of the two would be multi-millionaires.
Those who have a working conscience will love the ending.
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We have all seen and heard the issue of end of life in health care. The most money is spent in the last 3 months of one's life, presumably keeping someone alive. The need for 'Living Wills', and the need for someone in the family who knows and can speak go your wants around the subject of death.

Here we have an ICU setting, sort of a spaceship feel, with machines and lights with little human contact except for Nurse Stella, played by Helen Mirren. With her on this unit is Dr. Ernst, played brilliantly by James Spader. He works 36 hours on and hardly any time off. The guy in charge, Dr Butz, played so well by Albert Brooks has Korsikoff's Syndrome, a disease of alcoholism that produces a defunct liver and and a loss of memory.

They all center around patient in Bed 5. He is in a vegetative state, and has two daughters. Margo Martindale, plays Connie the devout one, and Kyra Sedgwick plays the other one. One wants him to die peacefully, the other wants everything done. Both are crazed in their way, specifically crazed about the family will.

The ethics of living and dying, insurance money, my will against yours, and what is truly best for the patient is overlooked for awhile. The ending, however, should cheer you. It still plays well, today.

Recommended. prisrob 04-06-14
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By Jean Lynch on March 27, 2012
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Cute movie. I actually ordered it because I had a school project on a movie concerning an ethical issue. This fit the bill - and it was an overall lighthearted theme. Poked fun at medicine as a business, but it made you think about life and death, and tugged at your heartstrings at times. An overall feel good movie.
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This is a brilliant movie. The ingredients are: a knock out cast~ James Spader, Helen Mirren, Albert Brooks, Anne Bancroft, and several other talented faces. It it directed by Sidney Lumet. The screenplay and acting are superb. What you get is a glimpse into the true story of the health care system of western medicine that has failed us all except the top 1 percent of money grubbing, power hungry, greedy bastards ie. Hospitals, Doctors, lawyers, Insurance companies that rule the day & all our lives. It's played out through the lead character(Spader) a materialistic, power hungry, womanizing doctor, who is awakened to a growing conscience by several eye opening incidents he finds himself involved in throughout the film. The message is loud, clear & true. Our health system is only for the rich & doesn't serve their true needs either. It is a creative gem, that has been neglected by movie lovers. If you want entertainment only this isn't for you. It's real, raw and makes you feel the weight of it's truth. There is some great dark humor, and emotionally touching scenes. They help to balance out the cynical & painful truth that sneers at the viewer through out the film. It's a sleeper, that you need to see, to wake up!
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