Eye of the Storm (2023) Movie Review – A profoundly relevant film in the post-pandemic era

A profoundly relevant film in the post-pandemic era

Based on the actual events of the 2003 SARS outbreak in Taiwan, Eye of the Storm (2023) unfolds predominantly within the confines of a hospital in Taipei. This is a slow-moving but engaging Netflix film with really compelling characters. And a story that is incredibly relevant in the post-pandemic era.  

Eye of the Storm chronicles the chilling discovery of the virus within the hospital’s walls, triggering a complete lockdown. With an ensemble cast, the narrative delves into the escalating crisis and the daunting decisions faced by various characters. Among them is Dr. Xia, who leaves the hospital for his daughter’s birthday but is called back for emergency surgery.

There’s also Tai-he An, a nurse aspiring to go to Hong Kong and join Doctors Without Borders, entangled in a romantic relationship with Dr. Xin-yan Li. There’s also a journalist named You-zhong Jin who’s working on a story about SARS and trying to document everything.  

The Taiwanese movie captures the essence of real-life events, treating the subject matter with reverence and gravity while avoiding excessive melodrama. The storytelling is compelling, although it does move at a glacial pace sometimes. A shorter runtime, in fact, could have served it better and engaged more people.

The characters all come across as authentic people and we see a good variety as well, from a kindly taxi driver to anxious nurses. Tai-he and Dr. Xia shine as the central figures. Tai-he deals with multiple curveballs and faces them with dignity while Dr. Xia goes from acute self-preservation to self-sacrifice. While the pace of the story is slow and intense, both these arcs are what make the movie worth watching.

The visual aesthetics deserve commendation. Despite almost entirely taking place inside the hospital, the film employs varying visuals that complement the narrative. At one point all the SARS patients are moved into the hospital’s B Wing. After that, the connecting passage between the wings is shrouded in darkness.

It looms ahead in an ominous way, with just the outline of the door visible at the end. A suitable metaphor for what awaits there. The accompanying music is subtle enough to hone in on the gravity of such scenes. Also, you will see authentic footage from the actual event interwoven into the narrative, adding a layer of realism and reminding viewers of the true-life context.

If there’s something that the movie gets spot on, it is empathy. It looks at all its characters with empathy and asks you to place yourself in their shoes. It would have been easy to present the staff who refuse to treat patients as villains. Instead, the movie shows just how human their fear is.

There are several moments in the movie when characters are forced to make tough choices and the complexity of those choices is constantly emphasized. Time and again we are told that things are not black and white. And the right choice isn’t easy. The film’s narrative is exemplary at depicting this.   

All in all, Eye of the Storm is not a perfect movie but it’s definitely a moving story. You leave the film with renewed respect for all those working in the healthcare industry, particularly in light of the last couple of years.

The epitome of this is during a scene where Dr. Xia goes into B Wing to deliver lunch boxes and sees the desolate condition over there. A nurse falls while rushing across from one room to another. When Dr. Xia asks her if she’s okay, she gets up, shouts out that she’s fine and then moves on. Forging ahead. After all, there is no other choice.

Read More: Eye of the Storm Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 8.5/10

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