A burned out paramedic struggles to maintain his
sanity as he's haunted by patients he failed to save.
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Paul Schrader
Starring Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman,
Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames, Marc Anthony, Cliff Curtis
Based on the novel by Joe Connelly
It's time for me to finish off the films of Martin Scorsese, a filmmaker whose work I've always adored and whose filmography I've nearly entirely crossed off my list. I figured this was a good place to start, considering my recent Nicolas Cage marathon. I'm a sucker for a good crossover. Bringing Out the Dead is a dark movie about knowing your limitations and accepting that there are some things in life you can't change. As a paramedic, Frank Pierce (Cage) burns himself out trying to save everyone, and loses himself in the process.
Frank has been driving an ambulance for nearly three straight days, and he is constantly haunted by the faces of all the patients he failed to save. When he resuscitates an older man who was dead for ten minutes, the man's daughter (Arquette) and Frank become entangled in each other's lives. We follow Frank as he tries to help Mary make peace, as well as his nightly back-and-forth with the doctors and paramedics of a Manhattan hospital. There's a lot of great things about this movie, mainly Cage's unhinged performance. But it feels like a watered down Taxi Driver at times, and Paul Schrader wrote both films, so that might be why.
There's too many subplots and very little is straightforward, so that's a bummer. But still, it shows a side of everyday life we don't often think about. The paramedics who live and breathe the constant struggle between life and death. What a tough job. I think the film could've done more towards showcasing the job itself instead of Frank's hallucinations and possible drug problem. But it wasn't terrible.