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Paper Mask Movie Review

matthew hospital esteem medical

Matthew Harris (Paul McGann) is chafing at the bit. He's a hospital orderly with an unexciting future until Dr. Simon Hennessy is killed in a car crash and Matthew, with the help of the doctor's papers, decides to take over his identity. He gets a job meant for Hennessy and winds up in the emergency room of another hospital during a medical crisis. Even though he's a bungler, he gets away with it. What clever psycho Matthew lacks in medical skills, he makes up for in cunning. He carefully observes the flaws of his colleagues and they, with their own guilty secrets to hide, explain away and fail to assign proper blame for his deadly surgical errors. Matthew quickly enlists an ally in Christine Taylor (Amanda Donohoe), a fine nurse with low self-esteem. She helps the new doctor in and out of scrapes and when he incompetently administers too much anesthesia and kills a patient, Christine takes the heat and rescues him. (That old Black Magic called Low Self-Esteem! It's a tribute to screenwriter John Collee, who adapted his own novel, that he's able to make a plausible case revealing how Matthew might actually be able to deceive a knowledgeable staff of doctors and nurses. Christopher Morahan's crisp direction and the terrific cast do the rest.) The hospital turns out to be just as determined to preserve its reputation as Matthew is to protect himself and so he's in the clear for the wrongful death. And then…someone recognizes “Dr. Simon Hennessy” as Matthew the orderly! Does one dead patient, a nurse who knows the truth, and a potential whistle blower faze Matthew? Rent Paper Mask after E.R. one night and find out!

1991 (R) 105m/C GB Paul McGann, Amanda Donohoe, Frederick Treves, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Jimmy Yuill, Tom Wilkinson; D: Christopher Morahan; W: John Collee; C: Nat Crosby; M: Richard Harvey. VHS

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