1969. Dr. Malcolm Sayer is hired as a clinical physician at a psychiatric hospital in the Bronx, despite he only having a research background. The job is not ideal on his side as he has difficulties relating to people which is the reason he has focused on research projects not involving human subjects, while the hospital hires him somewhat out of desperation in not finding anyone else with the qualifications who wants the job. Most of his patients are in a semi-catatonic state and are housed in what some of the orderlies coin the "garden" ward, where all they can do for the patients is water and feed them. He notices that some of the patients, despite their generally catatonic state, respond in unusual ways to certain stimuli. In doing some research, he also finds that some common bonds between these patients are that they suffered from encephalitis in the 1920s or 1930s, and that their physical states are like they have Parkinson's disease frozen in time. As such, he is able to ...Written by
Penny Marshall at first wanted Bill Murray to play Leonard Lowe, who was interested in the project, but she decided against it because she didn't want audiences expecting a comedy. See more »
Car window when Dr. Sayer is sitting inside talking to Nurse Costello. See more »
Dr. Peter Ingham:
Most died during the acute stage of the illness, during a sleep so deep they couldn't be roused. A sleep that in most cases lasted several months. Those who survived, who awoke, seemed fine, as though nothing had happened. Years went by - five, ten, fifteen - before anyone suspected they were not well... they were not. I began to see them in the early 1930's - old people brought in by their children, young people brought in by their parents - all of them complaining they weren't themselves ...
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Being a psychiatrist I was able to evaluate this movie more accurately than most. It gives a simplified and exaggerated but basically accurate account of using a new drug (at the time--1969) to help neurologically seized up patients. The ward looks just like the one I worked on for years at a State Mental Hospital, even the same design of 50's furniture.
The movie is several steps above a Lifetime Television production (which it resembles). Another reviewer said that De Niro was hamming his performance... NO. A dopamine compromised or Parkinson's patient looks exactly like De Niro did only maybe worse.
The ending statement was a stupid platitude. Robbins says "the chemical has stopped working but the human spirit advances through friendships family blah blah blah..." what a lot of solace that would be to one of those patients.
In this movie one can see the provenance of Cocoon.
This movie should get about a 6.5 . Maudlin formula stuff but well done maudlin stuff. I gave it a 7.
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