We’re in a suspiciously light hearted Medieval England. Wide-eyed Tom Payne plays a rather jovial peasant who takes an interest in medicine when, still a boy, his mother falls ill and dies. He joins up first with a travelling medicine man (reliably boozy Stellen Skarsgard) to ply his trade before embarking on a journey to East Asia in search of a legendary school of medical enlightenment and it’s renowned teacher Idn Sina (reliably sage Ben Kingsley).
Exotic locations; costumes; sets; pesky Arabs: sounds like all the trimming of an old school Hollywood epic, but if this is the best we can do for escapism in this day and age, we might be better staying locked up.
Taking its cue from the best-selling book of the same name – The Physician in English speaking lands – it’s difficult to see for whom – aside perhaps from fans of that particular text – this film is really for. The character portrayal borders on pantomime – perhaps even racist – and Tom Payne is remarkably dull as the supposed hero. Name recognition can do unfortunate wonders at the box office but even devout fans might feel their eyelids grow heavy as this film reaches its climax. A full 140 minutes later.
The Physician (Der Medicus) | Directed by Philipp Stölzl (USA, 2013) with Tom Payne, BenKingsley, Stellen Skarsgard. Starts December 25