While Back in The NO resembles the thrilling and theatrical medical drama classics such as Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Doctor, it does not reach deeper than shallow character development and single-faceted depictions of women.
The film is centered around a male nurse in Fresno named Ron (Zack Sayenko). Feeling unfulfilled in a profession where his masculinity is questioned and stuck in a love-drought, Ron decides to prioritize his time on searching for “the one”. With subplots between other healthcare professionals, Back in The NO opens the door to many promising plotlines but ultimately falls short with a rushed ending that does not do the character’s justice.
The film hits the mark with its pertinent and contemporary soundtrack (Ben Adams, Bobby Brader) along with its seamless editing (Daniel Fort) that gives the film continuity. The film’s greatest strength lies in Fort’s cinematography and camera work. The use of Dutch angles, close-up shots, and a handheld look visually replicates the hectic hospital environment that the film is set in. With a perceptive knowledge of when to use the handheld look, the film builds moments of tension that complement the performances seen by Zack Sayenko and Nevada Schaefer.
Unfortunately, much of their performances are overshadowed by a script that furthers the archaic notion that a woman’s sole purpose in film is to be the object of men’s desires. The script is hindered by it’s unneeded objectification of women through depictions that make their appearance the only characteristic that is explored. The poor representation of women makes it difficult to connect or relate to any of the romantic narratives, because they feel unrealistic in their formations. Both Sayenko and Schaefer’s characters develop relationships with women who are not given authentic personalities or backstories, rather their characters are developed through a plethora of one-liners about their appearance.
While Back in The NO’s script is swarmed with harmful tropes and stereotypes that need to be left in the past, the film excels in its impressive and engaging cinematography. What the story lacks in development is made up for by the film’s technical execution.
If the writer allows these characters to become layered within the lives they live, they’d be entertaining enough to have their own medical TV show.