This film succeeds on some levels. As a satire on the links between dollars, litigation and the US healthcare system, it fails to say anything new. However, it is interesting to see it attempt to tackle serious medical, ethical, philosophical and even theological issues.
It is surprising to see a film which both maintains that God exists and condones euthanasia. Or maybe it is not actually standing up for mercy-killing, but merely upholding a patient's right to decide whether or not to be rescitated. If the latter, it is unclear to me how a family could make decisions on resucitation for a patient who is capable of coherent speech ... At least this could spark some debates!
Perhaps it is best just to regard this as a twisting tale of bedsores, sex, money, lies, ventilators, videotape and nuns. (Alright, one nun, played with great dignity by Anne Bancroft.) On that level, this story is both amusing and touching. Helen Mirren is particularly moving as Stella, a nurse who has survived breast cancer.
Not all the characters are nearly as convincing, which makes for a very uneven tone.
Comic highlights include the ridiculous sex scene between Felicia (Kyra Sedgwick) and Werner (James Spader), and the ridiculous outfit which Felicia is wearing when we first meet her. One assumes that she is meant to resemble "mutton dressed as lamb" in her Swinging Sixties dolly bird gear. (If not, sorry.)
The denouement is very satisfactory. This film is not as profound as one might hope, but we do end up caring what happens to Stella, Werner and their patients.