Review: The Waiting Room
With incredible access, and presented without narration or commentary, we witness a day in the life of a crowded hospital emergency room in Oakland, California, where many of the patients are uninsured, and some are regular visitors.
Who’s in It?
A diverse group of people wade into the ER, as we follow among others, a nervous young man with a tumor, a tempered middle-aged laborer with bone spurs in his back, and a concerned father with a feverish daughter.
Honest and intimate, Pete Nicks’ documentary captures both the fear and frustration of those resigned to the waiting room in the ER. Doctors and nurses juggle rooms, fill prescriptions, and tend to not only the physical ailments of the patients, but their personal discomforts.
It’s the look in the eyes of everyone that is more troublesome than what brings them to the hospital, and that is by far the most distressing and depressing part of the wrenching doc. You see a nervous middle-aged woman, well dressed and trying to maintain an air of composure as she tells the nurse this is her first time at this hospital. She has just lost her job and is uninsured.
In another instance, a father is helpless as nurses tend to his infirmed daughter; he tries to act stoic. Others meanwhile are enraged: there is a tirade by one patient, and another just shakes his head, cursing under their breath, and in pain. Apolitical, there is no commentary or narration by Mr. Nicks. As we watch the events unfold, we hear from the many patients but never see them talk to the camera. And at the end of the busy day, another similar one awaits.
Should You See It?
The access to patients and staff makes this worthy, though it’s not necessarily a feel-good film, but interesting if not startling.
A doctor matter-of-factly to a patient: “Your x-rays turned out fine; you’re just washing out the crack and the meth in your system. You had a rough night.”
The Waiting Room will be playing at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this Friday, January 18th. Click here for a complete schedule.