Five Days at Memorial Review

Films and tv shows about real-life events can be a little difficult to depict because of how they are recorded, as in written down and documented. Sometimes these stories turn out very good and sometimes they don’t. The key is how the creators of the said show and or film are invested in telling this story and being meticulous in their storytelling. The creators of Five Days at Memorial pulled out all the stops to make this show as authentic as possible considering the tragic events that took place at that hospital during this period.

This series takes place during and after the hurricane Katrina disaster. At first, the news media and the employees of the hospitals thought they had made it out of this disaster without a scratch. That was until the levies started breaking and the water from the gulf of Mexico started flowing into the city limits of New Orleans. This caused the doctors and nurses to come up with a plan to try to keep the patients safe and or try to evacuate them if possible. Things didn’t turn out very well after this. 

The conditions of the hospital started to deteriorate. The air conditioning went out and so did the electricity. Due to the electrical grid in the city and surrounding areas going out. People started to get concerned about what was going to happen to the patient during this trying time for everyone involved. Also, there were some questionable characters outside the hospital until authorities came and wanted everyone to get out of the hospital. That was the key to how this tragedy truly unfolded after the hurricane.

The miniseries was developed, written, and directed by John Ridley and Carlton Cuse based on the 2013 book by Sheri Fink of the same name. These creators did a great job bringing this story to life on Apple TV +. All the pain and suffering and bad decision-making that went on during this time are in full effect in this series. Even the other side of the coin. The lawyers who have to investigate this tragedy are brought to life very well and all the investigative tricks they can muster are shown in the show. These creators don’t leave any rock unturned.

While telling this story Ridley and Cuse assemble an amazing cast of actors doctors led by Vera Farmiga as Dr. Anna Pou, Cherry Jones as Susan Mulderick, Robert Pine as Dr. Horace Waltz, and Cornelius Smith Jr as Dr. Bryant King. Some of the nurses are played by Adepero Oduye as Karen Wynn and Julie Ann Emery as Diane Robichaux. There are a couple more actors that play the lawyers in the series and they are Michael Gaston as Author Butch Schafer and Molly E Hager as Virginia Rider. All of these actors do a stellar job bringing this story to life and it shows in their performances. 

From a technical aspect, I couldn’t find any flaws in this show regarding the medical technique used throughout the mini-series. With all the doctors and nurses featured here, there is quite a bit of medical work done by all. This has to be done with perfect execution. Or those who are watching can catch anything that isn’t realistic or authentic. There are a lot of shows about doctors and from my point of view, this series was well depicted from this aspect as well. The creators were very thorough in their job on this story.

Five Days at Memorial depicted some tragic events in the follow-up of Hurricane Katrina. Ridley and Cuse are both very effective filmmakers and creators in their own right. What they made with this miniseries is a story of how a lack of decisions and leadership led to tough times for those involved including the patients. The writing is fantastic and the entire depiction of this story was first rate including the acting and direction. Apple TV + has a winner on its hands with this difficult series to watch. It’s not for the faint of heart at all points. Those that do watch it will be rewarded with a great show about this truly tragic event.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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