Review by James Lindorf
Director Stephen “Steve” Burrows (Chump Change) spent most of his professional career in the world of comedies. He has written, directed and acted in them since the late 80s. Then, his mom fell while riding her bicycle and it triggered a chain of events that would change both of their lives. When a poor medical system turned her routine hip replacement surgery into a temporary coma, resulting in permanent brain damage, Steve took on her power-of-attorney and refocused his life on her care. Seeking justice, he took on Aurora Health Care and our entire profit-driven healthcare system. His documentary, Bleed Out, will premiere December 17th on HBO.
Watching Bleed Out can cause a wide range of side effects from feelings of fear, and frustration to anger. The journey that Steve goes on to take care of his mom is an epic one. Steve was smart to included some of the light-hearted moments, captured over the years, to break the tension. Without those breaks it could become nearly impossible for some viewers to finish the film. The best element of the film is its pacing. On such a personal subject, it would have been easy for Burrows to get bogged down in the details or the heartache. Instead, he lingers on events long enough to feel their impact, but not so long you would think of hitting the fast-forward button.
Because it was outside of his realm of film-making and started off as a routine event, there are varying degrees of quality in the footage presented. We get scenes captured on whatever home movie camera set-up they had, footage from a small spy device, and finally, crisp, high-quality footage that came after Steve decided they might want to make a documentary out of the experience.
The film’s biggest failure is that, without thoroughly citing its sources, it risks being lumped into any number of documents with an ax to grind. Bleed Out excels in its explanation of an entire process, from injury to jury trial, that most American’s are unaware of in a heartfelt and genuine way. Some of the new practices in the medical community and the number of people that are injured or die due to accidents caused by medical professionals are staggering and make Bleed Out an interesting watch.
Interview is below: