Originally published Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Movie review

Thought-provoking 'Puncture' documentarylike

"Puncture," directed by Adam and Mark Kassen and starring the latter, Chris Evans and Vinessa Shaw, is a legal drama based on a true story about hospital ethics and HIV. Almost too intriguing, it might have made a better documentary, but it leaves you thinking, says Seattle Times movie reviewer Moira Macdonald. The film is playing at the Varsity, in Seattle.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Puncture,' with Chris Evans, Mark Kassen, Brett Cullen, Marshall Bell, Vinessa Shaw, Kate Burton. Directed by Adam Kassen and Mark Kassen, from a screenplay by Chris Lopata. 99 minutes. Rated R for drug use, language, some nudity and a sexual reference. Varsity.

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A well-made drama about a pair of young attorneys and a potentially explosive case, "Puncture" has the unusual problem of being almost too intriguing; its based-on-true-events story seems to cry out for documentary treatment. Mike Weiss (Chris Evans) and Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen) run a small law practice in Houston in the late '90s, making a living on personal-injury cases. They meet an ER nurse (Vinessa Shaw) who contracted HIV from an accidental needle prick on the job and wants them to help her fight hospital resistance to a newly invented safety needle. Mike is intrigued, Paul is reluctant, and soon the two are swept into a case that's far more wide-reaching, and more dangerous, than it initially seemed.

Directed by the sibling duo of Adam and Mark Kassen (the real-life Danziger is an executive producer), the film moves swiftly and efficiently through its story — always diverting and often thoughtful, particularly in Evans' charismatic performance. But the writing sometimes feels generic, with each character a type: Mike is an irresponsible drug user; Paul a straight-arrow family man; Vicky the nurse, a dying saint. The movie's endnotes leave us wanting to know much more about this fascinating real-life case — which reveals, yet again, the sorry state of health-care finances in this country — and its aftermath. You wonder if a documentary might have been more powerful than this film; but then again, "Puncture" leaves its audience thinking, and that's more than a lot of movies can do.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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