How did a film over 5 years old eventually get a theatrical release back in January of this year?
And why do the IMDb list it under the title Ways of the Flesh?
The Heart Specialist is an independent comedy that was reportedly completed in 2006, about a group of young medical residents at a Florida hospital starring Wood Harris, Brian White and Zoe Saldana.
But a five year wait seems excessive and places this firmly in the realm of Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (although that long-delayed film has more pedigree behind the camera).
It opened in the US in January and the verdict from the trades was pretty brutal.
Joe Leydon of Variety said:
“The Heart Specialist” is DOA. A ploddingly paced and tonally dissonant mix of broadly played sitcom-style humor and shameless heartstring-yanking, this long-shelved indie has been dropped into a limited theatrical run much like a terminally ill patient might be checked into a hospice. After its inevitable B.O. flatline, expect a quick transfer to Redbox kiosks.
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter was also less than enthusiastic:
Filmed in 2006 but only now receiving a limited theatrical release no doubt thanks to the presence of rising star Zoe Saldana (Avatar), the African-American, medical-themed The Heart Specialist plays like a poorly written episode of Gray’s Anatomy. This awkward, amateurish blend of comedy and melodrama will need life support stat to prevent it from immediately disappearing from theaters.
But this begs the question as to why it got a theatrical release at all. Did investors in the film have a legal clause demanding a theatrical release?
According to Box Office Mojo it has so far grossed $1,103,037.