John Q is an emotionally-packed movie that surrounds the unfortunate medical circumstances of John, played by Denzel Washington, and his son. The purpose of the film was to raise the many issues surrounding poor health care in the United States, and even less empathy from hospital administration and insurance companies. After John’s son collapses at a baseball game, the doctors diagnose him as having a heart that is too large for his body and declare that he must receive an immediate transplant to survive. Quickly, the hospital administration informs John that his insurance plan does not cover such an operation and an immediate payment of $100,000 must be made just to get his son’s name on the donor list. There are multiple issues surrounding the problems of John and his family, and through the use of cinematic techniques the director, Nick Cassavetes, brings these issues to life and sparks a national discussion on health care.
The movie contains multiple scenes of close-up camera shots, highly emotional scenes and the use of poignant music to emphasize the heightened emotions of the situation. In many scenes where John is speaking with his sick son, the camera is zoomed in to show the particular facial expressions of the characters. As the actors and actresses begin to shed emotional tears of fear and joy, the audience is able to experience the heightened emotional pull on the importance of the scene. The quality actors are able to act in a way that makes the audience believe in the magnitude of the situation. Washington convinces viewers as he immerses himself in the role and communicates an exceptional believability through communicating with the doctors, administrators and even his own wife. Finally, the director utilizes the power of music to express the heightened emotions surrounding the situation. For instance, in the first scene classical music is playing in the car of a woman as she performs dangerous turns in her car while driving. Quickly, the audience is able to understand that the woman’s death has a higher purpose in the overall story and her imminent death is preceded by the poignant, emotional music.
The overall goal of the movie is to communicate the importance of health care reform and the problems surrounding the current health care system with employer-sponsored health insurance. Within the first half hour of the movie, the villain becomes clear: “it’s all the fault of a healthcare system that caters to the rich and well-insured middle classes while denying quality care — or even life itself — to the uninsured and to poor people” (Lockard). This villain becomes magnified through the events of the plot; whereby, the employer has changed John’s insurance plan without notification and the hospital administrators and doctors are unsympathetic towards the pleas of the family. Through the use of and excellently written screenplay, John Q is able to explain the goal of the movie. The audience is educated from the hospital administrator, played by Anne Heche, “that over forty million Americans do not have health insurance, and many more have inadequate insurance” that increases morbidity and mortality rates through insufficient health care (Lockard). Part of the goal of this movie has been to begin a strong nationwide discussion for changes in the health care system, including the potential of moving towards a universal health care system.
Many individuals place blame on the entire health care system in the United States as being flawed and based solely around putting more money in the pockets of doctors and medical or insurance companies, rather than providing quality health care. Some individuals even claim that if the United States had universal health care, such as the system found in the northern neighbors in Canada, John Q and millions of other individuals would not experience nearly the headaches and heartaches. Unfortunately, universal health are poses its own problems for John Q, as explained by John Vincent from the Objectivist Center. First of all, the Canadian government has total control over paying for the health care system and makes all decisions on the wait lists and treatments that can be provided to all people. In other words, similar care would have been provided to John Q and his son in Canada, and would have likely reached the same diagnosis. However, the government becomes responsible for placing his son on the donor list and the government also decides if and when the patient will receive the surgery (Vincent). Therefore, the financial problems for John Q and the insurance struggles would no longer be the concern, instead the Canadian government would become the villain and John Q’s son may never receive his transplant, even with John Q’s decision to take hostages – it is out of the control of hospital administrators and doctors.