Since his birth, 30 years ago, John Soames is in a coma. Now he’s operated and brought to life in a neurologic clinic. A tense plan shall make him develop from a 30 years old baby to a man, but there’s no time for the love and care a normal baby would receive. He manages to flee…
Tom Zoerner <[email protected]>
User Reviews: "The Mind of Mr. Soames" is a uniquely original and genuinely absorbing medical drama/thriller, but let’s get one thing unmistakably clear from the beginning: this is a primarily talkative and thought-provoking film, so everyone who’s expecting spectacular action sequences or sensational Science Fiction footage might feel sorely disappointed or even cheated after his/her viewing! Kind of like with, for example, "The Andromeda Strain", my advice would be not to start watching this film late at night when you’re already battling sleep, because you’ll lose, regardless of how compelling and innovative the subject matter is. "The Mind of Mr. Soames" thrives on its intellectual screenplay (based on a novel by Charles Eric Maine), atypical character studies and deeply admirable acting performances. The atmosphere, as well as several individual sequences, is unsettling and suspenseful, but more from a social and human interest point of view if that makes sense.
In Dr. Maitland’s private clinic, cozily hidden in the rural British countryside, this 30-year-old patient John Soames has been lying in a coma ever since birth. Dr. Maitland has now invited the acclaimed American Dr. Bergen as well as a whole army of TV reporters and journalists to perform progressive brain surgery in an ultimate attempt to wake John up. The operation succeeds, but John naturally has 30 years of learning and development to catch up. Tension mounts when Dr. Maitland insists on subjecting John Soames to a strict schedule, while Dr. Bergen pleads for letting him explore and discover life freely. John himself clearly feels trapped within the clinic’s walls and escapes, but the baby inside a grown man’s body isn’t ready to deal with the world or vice versa. The most admirable thing about "The Mind of Mr. Soames" is that it never reverts to clichés or cheap sensation. The character of Dr. Maitland, for example, easily could have been a stereotypical tyrant or obsessive scientist, but even he remains an integer and identifiable person. The (anti-)climax, often described as boring and unsatisfying, is actually a very honest piece of cinema. Director Alan Cooke, usually active in television, does a very good job and also could depend on really great actors. Terence Stamp is simply terrific in the titular role, as he puts a lot of heart and childish innocence in the persona of John Soames. Robert Vaughn delivers what is probably the most mature performance of his career and Nigel Davenport is reliable as always. This was a very atypical film for the Amicus production studios and a very atypical film altogether, but recommended for sure.