Bringing Out the Dead ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

About nine years ago, my wife (then my girlfriend) began working EMS. She started with a private company that had the contract with the Jefferson County coroner's office. Not the most exciting work, but she saw a lot of grisly things during her time there. I remember feeling that she ought to see Bringing Out the Dead, so we watched it. She had this habit when watching anything based on work she knew of critiquing things like form and accuracy, and for the most part she gave this one high marks.

Beyond the little things, though, it was the verisimilitude of the depiction of that culture that she felt rang true. An obvious exception, of course, would be Frank returning to work the very next shift after the crashing of the ambulance, and of course Frank's ultimate handling of Patrick Burke would be completely contrary to any and all recognized codes of conduct. But as far as the personalities of the four medics that we see (Frank and his three partners), it's spot-on from what she had to say. Which, when you think of how troubling some of the things we see in the movie are, that's not exactly inspiring, even if it is (mostly) understandable.

It's hard to imagine any other director - at least of that era - having nailed the tone the way that Martin Scorsese did, but it's harder still to imagine any other actor other than Nicolas Cage having nailed the role of Frank Pierce. No one does "burnout" better than Cage. He's supported by a terrific cast, including what may be my favorite performance by Ving Rhames, but it's Cage's show all the way.

Special Features
Cast and Crew Interviews (10:38) ***
Mostly generic remarks, but interesting - if bothersome - for Scorsese's opening comments about being attracted to the conflict between feeling compassion for other people while also being "repulsed" by "the dregs". It's at best a clumsy display of privilege on his part, but I think it's a common enough viewpoint to hold that it's an understandable approach to bring to a story like this.

Theatrical Trailer 1 (2:38) **
Theatrical Trailer 2 (2:38) **
Both trailers are loaded with the best moments and some spoilers, and I'd be lying if I said that either would have necessarily inspired me to seek out the movie. I was pretty out of the movie scene around the time that Bringing Out the Dead was released, but even if I had been paying attention, I doubt either of these trailers would have engaged me. They lose another point for being presented in non-anamorphic widescreen on the DVD.

Bringing Out the Dead Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#156/1597)

Bringing Out the Dead > The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead > Summertime --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead > Paris, je t'aime --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead < Toy Story 2 --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead < Raiders of the Lost Ark --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead > Big Fish --> #156
Bringing Out the Dead < Zombieland --> #163
Bringing Out the Dead > Black Snake Moan --> #163
Bringing Out the Dead > Sleepy Hollow --> #163
Bringing Out the Dead > Twister --> #163
Bringing Out the Dead< Zombieland --> #163

Bringing Out the Dead was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #163/1597