Nerdlocker Movie Review: Code Black


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Code BlackCode Black is an experiential documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes of America’s busiest emergency room. It is a first-person reflection of director Ryan McGarry’s own training at Los Angeles County General Hospital’s legendary trauma bay, “C-Booth”, the birthplace of Emergency Medicine, where “more people have died and more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States.”

McGarry, a first-time filmmaker, spent five years in production on Code Black while simultaneously working the hectic schedule of a young doctor in training. The result is an unprecedented look at the people on the front lines of emergency healthcare; the doctors and nurses that strive daily to care for patients in a complex, broken system.

This is not ER. There’s real footage of emergency procedures and people in pain. It’s sad. Code Black refers to the state of the ER when it is on an extensive wait. Some patients have to wait 20+ hours before they get care and LA County is often in the Code Black state for several days straight. Much of the time, there’s a shortage of doctors/nurses on staff due to limited resources, and those working are overburdened with paperwork, their effectiveness limited by red tape. They wrestle with their ideals and the realities of working in a system that cares more about profits than people. Healthcare is a business and as long as it’s treated as such, doctors are stuck in a compromising position.

The subjects interviewed and on display have a deep-seated desire to help people. They are smart and passionate, and McGarry has given them a venue in which to speak candidly. I hope people watch and listen; the healthcare crisis is real and it will ultimately affect us all.

4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Code Black opens in Houston on Friday 8/1 at Sundance Cinemas.

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Salty Winters

Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.