Compromise may be essential to some; however, compromise often leaves us harmed, mentally and physically exhausted, with little to show for it. Some may see an influx of monetary gains, but where does the line between compromise, sacrifice, and good meet? THE GOD COMMITTEE, written and directed by Austin Stark, takes us inside the bureaucracy of a transplant committee at a New York hospital. When a patient dies before a heart transplant, the committee meets to decide which three patients should receive the heart. The primary cast is Julia Stiles, Colman Domingo, Kelsey Grammer, and Janeane Garofalo.
If you didn’t realize how horrendous the healthcare system is, allow this film to enlighten you. Dr. Andre Boxer (Kelsey Grammer) is a cold, analytical, judgemental person and considered one of the best heart transplant surgeons. His decisions come from medical reports. People don’t matter; the numbers do. Dr. Jordan Taylor (Julia Stiles), a new addition to the committee, doesn’t solely use reports to determine worthiness. Dr. Jordan Taylor considers the support system, family, and character of the patient who needs a heart. A psychiatrist and nurse round out this committee for heart transplants.
The other new addition, Father Dunbar (Colman Domingo), arrives bearing information regarding an offer of millions to the hospital from Granger (Dan Hedaya), whose adult son was just admitted to the hospital and needed a heart transplant. The clear implication is, give Granger’s son the heart, and the hospital will get over 20 million dollars. So now the committee is torn about who should get the heart transplant.
The timeline moves between the past and present, so there is confusion about what time we are watching. THE GOD COMMITTEE subscribes to this sentiment and wants audiences to wonder what they would decide if they were in the same situation. The phrase “Life is not fair” is heard by people who don’t want to look at the people who make life unfair or impure. However, this dictates that there would have to be work to address the unfairness of it all. The drama will draw in the audience. People will debate who should get the heart and hope for the best. Those who deserve the most sympathy are the people waiting for a heart. After all, their entire life is under a microscope, and it all counts. From weight, age, mental health, all of it factors into a patient’s chances. There’s little room for error, especially if one does not have millions of dollars at their disposal. Few will be surprised by this, particularly those who are not white.
The movie is, for the most part, entertaining. The acting is excellent, for the most part. Colman Domingo stands out in every single scene. Another is Janeane Garofalo, as Dr. Valerie Gilroy, who does a beautiful job conveying the harried, tired head who believes “nothing is pure.” But not all the acting stands out. The relationship between Kelsey Grammer’s Dr. Andre Boxer and Julia Stiles’s Dr. Jordan Taylor reads, at worst, flat and, at best, stretched thin. It’s challenging to watch when they are the only ones we primarily see onscreen.
The tragedy is that even if there were a surplus of organs for transplant patients, inequality would still hinder access. This system and society thrive on the phrase “limited.” It also would not address the ingrained biases and prejudices that often cost patients their life before they even have the opportunity for a transplant. As such, any excess would be rendered null and void. That isn’t to say we don’t need to find a way to have organs needed to save lives, but that’s not and never has been all we need. The biases among members in THE GOD COMMITTEE make it clear we need more than organs.
While THE GOD COMMITTEE isn’t a knockout film, it may help continue the conversation about healthcare inequality. The film keeps audiences invested for most of its runtime and does an apt job of posing the question, “What would you do?”
THE GOD COMMITTEE had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. It will be available in select theaters and On Demand on July 2, 2021.