Bear with us for a moment. When we tell you that Martin Kraut’s The Dose (La Dosis) is a depressing movie we might immediately lose you. It is important to add quickly that its depressing nature is its effect rather than its defect. This film is not out to affirm life but to remind you of the grim nature of mortality and our reliance on the will of others.
Caught up as we are in the global pandemic and the daily stories of nursing heroism it is jarring to come across this grindingly somber film where the nurses are the angels of death, either in mercy or vengeance.
Solidly dull but decent at heart Marcos Roldan (Carlos Portaluppi) mainly works the nightshift, tending to the illest patients in the ICU. Going the extra mile to save those he can, or prolong life a few days or hours more, he also decides at some point that the time has come. Then he gives suffering patients a chemical nudge towards the light. Carrying his twenty years of service on him like his excess weight he emanates a deep weariness at life.
Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers) joins the team as a new nurse with an unusual amount of expertise for a novice. Slick at lubricating the emotions of those around him he works his way into the medical hierarchy. It becomes apparent that he too is greasing the way out for the patients. In his case, it is because they have irritated or insulted him, or that he enjoys playing the role of a god.
When each realizes what the other is doing a chess game ensues. Part detective story as Marcos tracks down Gabriel’s true origins, part psychological thriller as sinisterly charming Gabriel tries elements of seduction, gaslighting, and threats to create an alliance of complicity between them.
This deliberately joyless movie uses its slow grinding pace as a storytelling device. Life has worn down the patients in the ICU, it has worn down the spirit and morals of Marcos. The amoral Gabriel seems like a shadow cast by their circumstances. If you are emotionally ready to see medical staff outside their normal heroic role then you are ready to take The Dose.
Review by ANDREW HEBDEN
Queerguru Contributing Editor ANDREW HEBDEN is a MEDIA & CULTURAL STUDIES graduate spending his career between London, Beijing and NYC as an expert in media and social trends. As part of the expanding minimalist FIRE movement, he recently returned to the UK and lives in Soho. He devotes as much time as possible to the movies, theatre, and the gym. His favorite thing is to try something (anything) new every day.