Code Black (NR)
Documentary 82 min. June 20, 2014
Nowhere is that better illustrated than in a late segment in which his camera captures a middle-age woman hobbling into a wheelchair. In a span of a minute or so, he has the story of how her personal and professional life (she's a former lawyer) imploded and she's now living out of her car. The smile with which she first meets the camera crumples as she tearfully states, "I'm 58 years old. What am I gonna do?" L.A. County is the birthplace of emergency medicine as we know it, its ideals and practices, and continues to be ground zero in the healthcare crisis, as infants, gang members, indigent elderly, and the working poor flock there for treatment. Sketching in a rich historical overview while also clearing space for intimate portrayals of staff, the film is often graphic (it's not for the squeamish) and just as often very moving.
It helps that much of the staff is as photogenic as the cast of a TV medical drama, but what will pull viewers in is the empathy of the healthcare workers who battle to retain their idealism in the face of staggering obstacles.