Incredibly immersive, atmospheric, and dark, Bringing Out the Dead is a captivating character study you’re going to remember. Hell, I watched this movie several years ago and I still remember some of the scenes. However, it is that all-consuming atmosphere that you’ll remember the most. We will be following Frank, a burned-out paramedic consciously going through a downward spiral. I feel like we are all Frank to a certain extent. I know I am. I’ve been struggling with depression for most of my life, drinking not so much but it was there. The burnout came when I got my first “real” job. Only now I’m slowly trying to anchor myself in this void of existence.
Bringing Out the Dead is a movie that’s going to resonate with a lot of people. It feels like a drama for men. Like, we don’t know how to deal with our emotions so regular dramas are not appealing to us. But give us something fucked up, dark, and nasty like this and we’ll love it. It will overload and fry our depression circuits and make us realize our life ain’t so bad. The events we’re about to witness feel authentic and real. Which is not surprising since the movie is based on a novel of the same name written by a former EMS worker Joe Connelly.
And on top of that, it has that certain Scorsese quality. Yes, Martin Scorsese made a movie about another mentally unstable guy who works nights. And also yes, Nic Cage is playing another mentally unstable guy. Although you might say that that’s his career right there. Nic also narrates the whole thing with a lot of emotion bringing us even closer to his character. The cast of this movie is simply phenomenal. We’ve got Ving Rhames, John Goodman, and Patricia Arquette for fuck’s sake! Not to mention Tom Sizemore who I feel knows all too well these states of mind.
Meet Frank Pierce, a paramedic working the graveyard shifts with three different and colorful partners. He’s burned out, haunted by memories of failed interventions and people who he couldn’t help. People who died on his watch. Frank mechanically carries on into that dark night, not knowing what it will bring. The alcohol is not helping and his depression is slowly getting the better of him. The downward spiral is a bitch.
When was the last time you saw an ambulance car speeding down the street? I see them several times every day since I live near a local hospital. I remember how my grandmother would cross herself every time she heard the siren and said a little prayer. To me, all of this was just background noise. However, after my first call, things changed. And more and more I started thinking about my grandmother’s little ritual. And then you start wondering how it feels to be the one riding in that ambulance car. To be the difference between life and death.
It’s much, much worse than being a cop, I’ll tell you that much. So, Bringing Out the Dead offers a fascinating look into the lives of paramedics and first responders in general. And it also features a different kind of New York. This is not the glamourous New York of today but more of a rough and fascinating New York of the late eighties. When you combine that with our protagonist slowly slipping away, you get a Bad Lieutenant reference. So, if you’re looking for similar movies, that would be a good choice.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Joe Connelly, Paul Schrader
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, Marc Anthony
Fun Facts: Nicolas Cage would change at least ten t-shirts every night of filming because of all the stains.