No Way Out

No Way Out ★★★

Criterion Channel - Fox Noir #7

Medical noir at the fringe of racial tension, “No Way Out” is rife with misplaced but good intentions. Dr. Brooks, who is practising his junior residency at a prison ward, experiences his worst night shift when two white criminals, who are siblings and was shot on their legs, arrive at the emergency, one of them dying in his hands. While he is competent and passionate in his profession, people around him assume his capabilities and skills by his skin colour. It's eventually worsened by one of the criminals who spite and threaten him, blaming him for his brother’s death. Swiftly, allegations and accusations start to smear his reputation. Hushed tones seemingly voicing out their concern carry a discriminatory weight. And determined to prove his diagnosis, Dr. Brooks goes to hell and back to surmount many obstacles. The senior doctor (aka the Nice White Person™) displays an initially dismissive attitude; politics takes a dip behind the scenes. But most frustratingly, Dr. Brooks loses confidence in himself. He second guesses not only his ability, but also his achievements. And it doesn’t take long before the vile criminal’s words affect him. How easy it is to believe that you are what they tell you, instead of the person you really are. So a spat and scalpel of racist remarks brim the script. White people occupy most of the runtime, somehow eclipsing Dr. Brooks’ story with underdeveloped subplots about gangs and people running back and forth to do god-knows-what. It’s this same reason that makes the film unnecessarily fattened with scenes dispensable (I prepared my dinner while watching, I didn't miss much). Perhaps, it’s deliberate: Dr. Brooks doesn’t have the influence, the position (although he has the title, it is meaningless) and white people do the talking on his behalf. What aids him is the malaise of wonky social conscience on a white woman. As it wraps up, “No Way Out” does get it right somewhere despite its predictable exit: proving yourself against hatred is futile. And there is no cure for people who have intubated themselves with racism in order to breathe. A sure symptom of a terminal illness of decency; a moral rot; a lost cause.

A scene where Dr. Brooks' wife only allows herself to cry once the white people have left is unforgettable.

(My 100th film noir. I can’t believe I finished this collection. Average rating is 3.14. Not bad, not bad. Now, let’s see if I’ll finish my come undone, 2021 list. I think the answer is no 🤡)

J liked this review