The Waiting Room (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Waiting Room2012

The Waiting Room (2012)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film - using a blend of cinema verité and characters' voiceover offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

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Critic Reviews for The Waiting Room

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (20)

It's a vivid portrait of the crisis in health care policy, with the caregivers and clinic itself as much on life support as the sick people.

March 21, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A moving portrait of people doing their jobs under very difficult circumstances - and, in virtually every moment we see, doing them with efficiency, wisdom and compassion.

March 21, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4

Nicks nets moments that are at turns horrific and touching, redemptive of those seeking treatment and the workers who provide it where no one else will.

March 14, 2013 | Full Review…

The level of frankness and vulnerability of those featured suggests just how compassionate a filmmaker Nicks (who acted as his own cinematographer) must be.

January 18, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4

Both a depressing indictment of a system that prioritizes health care based on insurance coverage and, at the same time, uplifting, if only because of the extraordinary professionals who keep it going - barely.

January 17, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Eloquently portrays the faults and limitations of the American health care system, even as it punctures some of the most toxic stereotypes surrounding it.

November 30, 2012 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Waiting Room


This is a very good piece of evidence, as to why the health care system in this country has to be reformed. People without insurance can only be seen in the emergency room, and looking at urban areas, that means hundreds of people waiting hours, days, even weeks for medical care. In one instance of the film, a man with a bullet wound is left to sit for an entire day, going numb throughout his body. A young girl is rushed through, an older man tries to get help when there's no one able to, and a homeless man takes attention away from less endemic cases as he's rushed through the ER. It's a very stressful environment that's portrayed, and the implications of not having insurance are strongly shown. The people in the documentary are also quite interesting, and at times it feels more like a film than a realistic portrayal of a hospital. There's the sassy nurse, the hopeful and yet defeated doctor, the strange people coming through the ER, trying to get treatment. Not only does this film educate, but entertain, and that's difficult with such a small space and time to work with.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


"The Waiting Room" is an incisive look at the sorrowful state of the modern healthcare system in the United States, as seen through the microcosm of a 24-hour period of the emergency room in Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. Through the eyes of patients, nurses, doctors and social workers, we see how the system functions and does not work, and in response how the staff members seek to work the system to the best of their patients' advantage and health. As one doctor explains, the emergency room is usually the only chance for these uninsured people to see a doctor which is why these cases are not usually those we have been conditioned to associate with an emergency but are still important nonetheless. Otherwise, the patients would be left to their own devices and the internet. My only criticism here is we never get a clear specific sense as to how long these people have to wait to see a doctor.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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