‘The God Committee’ Review: At a Hospital, Judgment Day

“The God Committee” ostensibly ponders the ethical compromises involved in choosing organ transplant recipients, but it mostly illustrates the dangers of facile twists.

A teenage cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run that the screenwriter-director, Austin Stark, gratuitously plays for shock. The cyclist’s heart is helicoptered to New York, but the woman in line to receive it through normal channels dies during prep. That leaves the hospital’s heart transplant committee with an hour to decide who gets it.

Should it go to a patient whose husband died on Sept. 11, 2001, but who is mean to the nurses? Should it go to an overweight doorman who has bipolar disorder, but who is trying to put three daughters through college? Or should it go to a much younger cocaine user and possible batterer whose father (Dan Hedaya) is dangling a $25 million grant?

As agonizing as this emergency decision would be, the setup plays like a false trichotomy, compounded by ancillary ironies contrived for dramatic purposes. An eminent cardiovascular surgeon (Kelsey Grammer) on the committee has been having an affair with the group’s newest member (Julia Stiles). A lawyer-turned-priest (Colman Domingo) essentially acts as both.

And in a device that has been added since “The God Committee” played in a stage version, written by Mark St. Germain, the movie crosscuts between these events, set in 2014, and the future, December 2021, when Grammer’s ailing character, nearing a scientific breakthrough, is himself a bad candidate for a transplant. A natural ham, Grammer only amplifies what is grandiose and bogus in this material.

The God Committee
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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