6.8/10
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Blue/Orange (2005)

The story of a young mental patient and the doctors treating him.

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Dr. Robert Smith
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Dr. Bruce Flaherty
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Christopher
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Storyline

Chris has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder following a psychotic episode. After 28 days in the care of young registrar Dr. Bruce Flaherty he is due to be released, but Bruce fears that his patient's belief that his father is Idi Amin, and the fact that he insists that oranges are blue, are warning signs of schizophrenia. If Chris is released into the community he could well suffer a terrible breakdown. The scene is set for a struggle with senior consultant Dr. Robert Smith who sees Chris as ready to leave. Written by Anonymous

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23 February 2005 (UK)  »

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Brilliant and thought provoking
27 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

BBC Four really is becoming my favourite channel on UK TV, and it's things like Blue/Orange that just reinforce that perception.

Blue/Orange works very well as an adaptation from a stage play, because it just focuses on the dialogue between three actors and whisks us into a thought-provoking story. What particularly works well in this type of story is that most of us (myself included) don't have knowledge of mental health matters. So we are generally clueless and/or we have preconceptions going into the story, which is great because preconceptions are what this story is quite often about.

At first, I instantly found myself being swept along by the views of Dr Flaherty, the seemingly eager and idealistic doctor. His patient thinks oranges are blue, how "crazy" is that? So Flaherty easily makes sense.

But then in comes Dr Smith, the potentially jaded old timer. He then starts to swing me around with his points of view.

And this happens a lot throughout, constantly pulling you in one direction, then another, as you are challenged to think about your views on everything from philosophy to racism. As the story progresses, there is more and more to think about.

The story never loses focus, and feels carefully constructed from start to finish. As it gets towards the end, there's almost a revelation as you genuinely realise we are all a product of our external stimuli, and how we are affected by others and how they affect us too -- often for their own selfish reasons. And it's done in a nicely subtle way that creeps up on you.

In terms of direction, it is unassuming for the most part, which lends itself to the dialogue-driven drama that it is. But at times the direction almost feels different, like there were two directors, and I didn't like that inconsistent feeling at times. I also disliked the annoying "music" that they about two thirds of the way in for a bit, and briefly at the end. It felt inconsistent with the rest of the production.

The acting was superb from all three of the actors, but in particular I have to single out Brian Cox. Inhabiting his character with so many levels, as an actor it's a strength he consistently displays.

In summary, I don't think doctors would really talk quite like this, the story had a lot of "What is life about?" pondering that is more suited to philosophical drama than workplace talk. But it doesn't matter, as it's fantastic thought-provoking drama (and one that would probably benefit from a second watch).

As my review said above, a lack of mental health knowledge helped to be a viewer that was swept away with the opinions presented within the story. But by the time you get to the end, you realise a lot of it isn't even about mental health, and that it's just a great story about human nature. The story isn't about right or wrong, or blue and orange—it's all about shades of grey.


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