Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor
The Hippocratic Oath is one all doctors must take, to uphold ethical standards and do no harm to their patients, but as Hippocrates demonstrates, sometimes things aren’t so black and white. The film introduces us to Benjamin (Vincent Lacoste), a 23-year-old completing his first internship in internal medicine alongside his father. Benjamin starts out optimistic and quickly becomes the department’s star intern, until things start to go wrong. First there’s Abdel (Reda Kateb), an older Algerian doctor interning at the hospital to qualify for equivalency. Abdel’s not only more experienced than Benjamin but more confident, with a better bedside manner. Naturally, Benjamin isn’t too thrilled with his presence – at first, anyway. Then there’s Benjamin’s mistake: he misses something vital to a patient’s survival, which the hospital then covers up. Tensions flare and Benjamin’s conscience starts to eat away at him.
Hippocrates is a sensitive, thoughtful coming-of-age narrative, as well as a strong critique on the changing face of the French healthcare system. Like the NHS, budget cuts, over-worked staff and crippling bureaucracy are beginning to take their toll on the system. Indeed, throughout much of the film the characters struggle with the fact that the hospital is increasingly run like a business, with efficiency being prioritised over patients and their comfort.
The performances are strong and it’s no surprise that Reda Kateb’s bagged him Best Supporting Actor at the César Awards last year. There’s nothing particularly special about the cinematography or music. Like many indie films, Hippocrates is dominated by long, pondering shots and reflective moments, although this does add to the feeling of intimacy and realism. The storyline is absorbing and the script is excellent, with a good mix of dark comedy and ethical debates. Overall, Hippocrates is a thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Hippocrates is released nationwide on 26th June 2015.
Watch the trailer for Hippocrates here: