Elizabeth Taylor (Elizabeth Banks)
Elizabeth Taylor (Elizabeth Banks)

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Plot Summary

In Australia, at Auckland Central Hospital, Elizabeth Taylor is one of the top surgeons, and with what should have been a relatively simple surgery, she lets her registrar, Richard, participate. Unfortunately, he makes a mistake, and while the patient lives through the night, by the next day, she’s dead.

There are a multitude of questions as to why, and accusations naturally begin to fly. This makes the country’s proposal to soon have surgical records and data of surgeons’ failures or successes, becoming public worrisome to many. However, with Elizabeth being a golden child, many, like the Head of Surgery, Andrew, have to humor her.

But, as the situation gets worse, it seems he hopes this could bury her or at least humble her in ways he can’t without having to be subtle or mindful.

Cast and Characters

Character’s Name Actor’s Name
Elizabeth Elizabeth Banks
Richard Richard Crouchley
Andrew Simon McBurney


One of the top surgeons around, especially in her field, Elizabeth has not only a positive reputation work-wise but also a contentious one, for she will call anyone out, including her boss. But, don’t get it twisted, she isn’t married to her work. She has something going on with one of the nurses, though her relationship with her has complications. However, even if she doesn’t have a woman to come home to consistently, she has friends and a life outside the hospital.


Richard is a registrar, aka a student doctor, who is a bit of a nervous kid. He’s capable of the work and has Elizabeth’s trust, but as he considers the idea that he may have killed a patient, he begins to spiral.


The head of surgery at the hospital, Andrew, used to be a surgeon but decided to go to the administrative side, and it seems to suit him. However, seemingly forgetting where he came from leaves surgeons like Elizabeth feeling less like they have an ally and rather have a formidable adversary.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Good If You Like

  • Medical Dramas

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Despite the subject matter of the film being an untimely death, “A Mistake” isn’t a film that drags on forever and loses you in the plot. Yes, there is a lot of medical terminology, the depiction of a procedure, stoic attitudes, and the bureaucracy of running and protecting a hospital. However, the parts that would clearly be dull for an audience are minimized in favor of allowing you to experience and process each character’s performance and what they’re going through.

So while there is medical jargon, it is used to show how cold medicine can be and removed from what happened to a patient. While there are middle managers and bureaucracy, because of who Elizabeth is as a person, she keeps all of those scenes engaging, even if by simply being contentious. And while running a hospital may require meetings over surgical procedures, responding to filings, and data, again, Elizabeth is made to be the type of character who, because she is sure of herself and her work enough to speak up, she has no issue saying what others may feel, or be too afraid to say, damn how the higher ups feel.

Andrew vs. Elizabeth

The best thing about the movie is Andrew and Elizabeth’s spats. There are at least 4 interactions between them in which Andrew becomes someone you love to hate as Elizabeth undermines his position because she doesn’t like who he is as a person – especially as you see him reach for new lows over 101 minutes.

I’d even add that often, when we talk about chemistry, it’s the idea of romantic chemistry. However, between Elizabeth Banks and Simon McBurney, the focus has to be the subtle hatred both are able to convey, which allows them to shine and Andrew be someone who is, if not justified in his actions, at the very least doesn’t see himself as the villain in this story. Yet, because Elizabeth has an opposing perspective, it creates a dynamic where there are no absolutes, just two conflicting opinions with points on both sides presented by stubborn people. Who, because of their relationship, you could see cursing each other out, and potentially getting personal, if it wasn’t for their work environment.

On The Fence

The Lisa drama

Unfortunately, the central conflict of the movie, Lisa’s death and the ripple effect, aren’t the hook of the film. They are the catalyst, the latest thing to cause Andrew and Elizabeth to have beef, but Lisa as a person, her parents, Richard’s reaction? That can sometimes feel like the equivalent of a medical show or movie that bogs itself down in the details.

You can feel bad for Lisa and her parents and maybe even relate to them if you’ve been in their situation. However, without that experience, it can feel like they are meant to further Banks’ performance and represent her growth over time or remove the callouses that allow Elizabeth to do her job.

But while Lisa and her parents can add something, Richard? That’s more of a challenge. Yes, Elizabeth takes responsibility for him, but it isn’t anything that drives an investment in Richard. Elizabeth seemingly works at a teaching hospital; he’s her student. He made a mistake, and his guilt for being part of why it is assumed Lisa dies eats at him.

However, since the film is not about him, we don’t really explore what a doctor feels when losing a patient, potentially for the first time. Instead, he becomes almost an annoyance, someone you’re glad gets minimal focus. For while what he goes through is real, not having enough spotlight makes it hard to care.

Background Information

Film Length 1 Hour 41 Minutes
Date Released June 8, 2024
Distributor Film Festival – Tribeca Festival
Director(s) Christine Jeffs
Writer(s) Christine Jeffs
Based On Work By Carl Shuker
Genre(s) Drama
Content Rating Not Rated
Content Information
Dialog Cursing
Violence Blood, Self-Harm
Sexual Content Nothing Notable
Miscellaneous Open Wounds, Drinking

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