Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience - giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife.
After she discovers that her boyfriend has betrayed her, Hilary O'Neil is looking for a new start and a new job. She begins to work as a private nurse for a young man suffering from blood ... See full summary »
Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Following a brief period of rehearsals, Joel Schumacher assembled the film's cast and crew in Chicago on October 23, 1989. For two nights, the Museum of Science and Industry was used as the ominous exterior of the Taft Building. For the exterior of the university campus, the production selected the scenic Lake Shore campus of Loyola University. See more »
While a defibrillator is of no use if a patient has truly flatlined, a patient in a "fine v-fib" rhythm can appear to have flatlined but still be revived with the paddles. Therefore, when in doubt, the Advanced Cardiac Life Support guidelines call for administering the shock, though it's not the treatment of choice. See more »
A medical student named Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland) hatches a plan to explore death by briefly killing himself in a controlled environment then having his friends bring him back to life minutes later. Four fellow students join in the plan, taking turns with their explorations, competing with one another to see who can stay "under" the longest. What will the consequences of this dangerous game be? Without a doubt, the premise of Flatliners is intriguing. I can't speak for the medical veracity of the idea--I'm sure it's ridiculous--but it doesn't need to be realistic to provide fodder for a good film. Unfortunately, this isn't a good film. It's not quite failure, but it's damn close. It's as if somewhere along the line the film was brought back from the dead, but with severe brain damage.
One of the primary problems that director Joel Schumacher does not overcome is that these actors just do not seem like medical students, and the setting just doesn't seem like a medical school. In addition to Sutherland, the other "students" are Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Oliver Platt. With the exception of Platt, the other four seem more like models who got lost on their way back from a Vogue shoot. Platt seems like an overacting fussbudget who got lost on his way to a Steven Spielberg set. Writer Peter Filardi gives them more model-like dialogue, except when they're flatly reciting the medical terms they've memorized.
The "school", for some bizarre reason, is an old church/monastery, filled with Gothic statuary and modern construction accoutrements, such as scaffolding and those thick, transparent plastic sheets they hang in doorways. It does look cool, but it's difficult to buy the set as a medical school.
That might not usually be a problem for me--I love absurdism, after all, but the plot seems to hinge on the verisimilitude of the characters and their setting. What we're left with are actors going through "medical student" ritual movements and speech as they work their way through a formulaic series of events. Formulaic because much of the film consists of the same scene over and over, our cast of pretty boys (and a beautiful girl) simply take turns around the chair of honor, a bit like they're square dancing. The first time, when Nelson goes "under", it may be pretty exciting, but by the fifth time, it's just more ritual--there is little suspense.
The genre listing claims that Flatliners is a combination of horror, thriller and sci-fi. None of those seem to fit the film very well, although superficially, it makes some sense. But the scenarios are really just drama heavily imbued with symbolism and metaphor. The "fantasy" elements are intriguing enough at that, but the gist of the film consists of characters having to adjust their karmic balances. They're trying to right various wrongs, or at least perceived wrongs, towards persons from their pasts. It's fairly overt; there isn't much subtext here. The karmic imbalance material is the best of the film, but in a case of life reflecting art, Schumacher has a karmic imbalance himself--there is far too much empty ritual in the film and not enough meaty material.
16 of 33 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this