Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"John Q" is the kind of movie Mad magazine prays for. It is so earnest, so overwrought and so wildly implausible that it begs to be parodied. I agree with its message-- that the richest nation in history should be able to afford national health insurance--but the message is pounded in with such fevered melodrama, it's as slanted and manipulative as your average political commercial.
The film stars Denzel Washington as John Q. Archibald, a Chicago factory worker whose apparently healthy son collapses during a Little League game. John Q. and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) race the kid to an emergency room, where his signs are stabilized and then a cardiologist (James Woods) explains that young Mike's heart is three times normal size.
There are two options: a heart transplant, or optimizing Mike's "quality of life" during the "months ... weeks ... days" left to him. Joining the doctor is appropriately named hospital administrator Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche), who already knows the Archibalds have no money, and argues for the "quality of life" choice.
John Q. thinks he's covered by insurance, but no: His company switched to a new HMO that has a $20,000 ceiling, and since John has been downsized to 20 hours a week, he's lucky to have that much coverage. Payne demands a $75,000 down payment on the $250,000 operation, and explains the harsh realities of life for "cash patients." John Q. considers taking the kid to County Hospital, but is urged by a friendly hospital employee to stay right there at the ominously named Crisis of Hope Memorial Hospital.