May 05

Forgotten Films: Bringing Out The Dead

Martin Scorsese
Joe Connelly (Novel)
Paul Schrader (Screenplay)
Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames, John Goodman, Marc Anthony

Frank Pierce (Cage) is a burnout and a fading paramedic working the graveyard shift in Gotham’s Hell’s Kitchen at possibly one of the most intense and violent times in New Yorks history, the early nineties. Frank has failed to save anyone for a while and is haunted by his failings. The story follows Frank’s search for redemption over three nights with three very different partners.

The film makes you feel like you are along for Frank’s ride the whole time, you really feel like you are falling with him and it’s use of a narration keeps it quite intimate even when the worse is happening. The pacing is a little slow and its not going to wow anyone with twists or turns but for what it sets out to do it accomplishes in spades.

The film is all about Nicolas Cage, as he is in almost every scene, now days that would almost be enough for me not to go see a film, but Cage is in his element in this film. He has a real knack for playing washed out and on edge characters and for this film he is in fine form. He spends most of the film looking worse than the people he is treating and his visual presence in this film is both astonishing and haunting. Patricia Arquette is forgettable as the love interest but the dynamic between them works quite well, so it can be forgiven. The rest of the supporting cast do a really good job, particularly Ving Rhames as a bible bashing preachy paramedic and Tom Sizemore, who is a time bomb in every scene. Also I think Marc Anthony missed his calling as an insane drug addict.

Best Bits:
Watching Frank’s decline is really the reason I keep coming back to this film, Scorsese is a master of bringing a setting to life and you can really feel for Frank’s struggle through each experience due to the mania surrounding him. The cinematography is exceptional, every street and every project feels like 90’s New York and you can feel tension and danger in every location they visit. These are reasons enough to watch, however my favorite scene is definitely his second meeting with Cliff Curtis as the drug dealer. Gold.

The film is definitely not Scorsese’s best work, but it has some great moments and it is a dark, dark comedy so this one is not for those into light hearted films. Don’t use it as a date night film but it is actually quite funny and it is nice to revisit some good old school Nicholas Cage.

Final words:
Good Friday night movie.

Rent it at your favourite video store or buy it here:
For Australians: EzyDVD.com.au
For the World: Amazon.com