The God Committee
In the late 1950s attempts were made to introduce the element of scent to cinemas, with a system called Smell-O-Vision. Essentially, a smell appropriate to the onscreen action wafted through the cinema’s ventilation system at key moments. If the system happened to be in use during screenings of The God Committee, the most relevant scent is likely to be a strong whiff of cheese. The film is almost peculiar in that it’s rather enjoyable without being especially good.
Kelsey Grammer is Dr Andre Boxer, an esteemed New York-based cardiovascular surgeon. While he’s about to move to the private sector, he serves on his hospital’s so-called God Committee, which determines a patient’s suitability for organ transplantation, which can subsequently decide whether the patient lives or dies. Dr Jordan Taylor (Julia Stiles) is his replacement on the committee (as well as his lover), and her first deliberation (and Dr Boxer’s last) has long-lasting ramifications for all involved.
The action unfolds in parallel timelines: one in 2014, and the other in 2021. While title cards differentiate the two periods, these are quickly discarded, with the safe assumption that audiences will know the difference, depending on whether or not Grammer is wearing his marvellously bouffant hair piece. Although such committees presumably exist, director Austin Stark’s film (adapted from the play by Mark St Germain) rather gratuitously dramatises the decision-making process. It’s incredibly (and strangely pleasantly) soapy.
The fact that Grammer (age 66) and Stiles (age 40) play lovers is a little disquieting. Donald and Melania Trump have more chemistry. While a master and mentor arrangement aids the narrative, the pair’s interactions run the gamut from professionally courteous to polite indifference. Nevertheless, the cast (ably supported by Janeane Garofalo) turn in measured performances, which keep the action in check, preventing it from spiralling off into histrionics. With a few tweaks, The God Committee could easily be a TV pilot, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a cameo appearance from Dr Meredith Grey.
The God Committee is released in select cinemas on 19th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for The God Committee here: