By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
The worst thing about Doctor Bello's tacky, pseudo-spiritual proceedings isn't how bad the soap opera melodramatics are (Tyler Perry would blush!), but rather how lazily sketched out its story of one man's road to self-actualization is. The film's writers left no cliché unused, and no major plot point undeveloped. Dr. Durant (Isaiah Washington) has exhausted his resources in a quest to cure a 13-year-old of his cancer. Durant turns to Dr. Bello (Jimmy Jean-Louis), a Nigerian practitioner of holistic medicine, who saves the little boy with a mysterious vial of liquid and an unhealthy dose of faith-based hoodoo. But when Bello succumbs to cancer, Dr. Durant must fly to Nigeria in search of a Lorenzo's Oil-style cure. The quest is paint-by-numbers nonsense, and Doctor Bello's creators demonstrate little facility for representing recognizably human emotions. For example, Washington's Durant is presumably sympathetic because he's soft-spoken and even-tempered, but that meekness just makes him a shy cypher. Even the scene where Durant takes a Nigerian healer's drugs and then wrestles with himself—literally, with his own double—on a Nigerian beach is weirdly rote. The inadvertent homoerotic subtext is momentarily diverting, but everything else in Doctor Bello is tired.
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