Donald Sutherland takes the central role of a heart specialist involved in the development of a mechanical heart for transplant purposes. The device is the brainchild of medical biologist Jeff Goldblum, a fanatic who is certain his radical conception will revolutionize surgical techniques.
When all current practices fail on patient Mare Winningham, Sutherland decides to defy the board and bring out the miracle device. The controversial operation immediately generates media attention and Sutherland nervously waits out the consequence of his action.
Writer James Salter and director Richard Pearce have strenously avoided taking a melodramatic approach to the material. What emerges is virtually a visualized medical journal filled with the tedium and monotony facing a dedicated surgeon incorporated along with the excitement of venturing into new medical frontiers. At times one wishes the film had opted for a more dramatic tone.
Sutherland gives a cooly effective performance. The stability of Sutherland’s surgeon is in sharp contrast to Goldblum’s erratic inventor, providing the film with a keen sense of humor.