Rounding (2022) is director Alex Thompson’s follow-up to his 2019 film Saint Frances. The film focuses on resident doctor James Hayman (Namir Smallwood), who transfers to a rural hospital in Greenville for the second year of his residency after an ordeal at his first hospital leaves him shaken. James is struggling to get back into the routine, and his supervisor, Dr. Harrison (Michael Potts), encourages him to improve his bedside technique. Not long after James becomes consumed with the case of young asthma patient Helen Adso (Sidney Flanigan), his demons from the past begin to manifest in a variety of ways that magnify his anxiety, and his reality starts to unravel.
Smallwood gives a very solid performance in his first feature film role. There are a few scenes where his newness is evident – but overall, he is able to deliver the performance needed to sell the story. There are several moments where his blurred version of reality becomes apparent to those he works with. That line isn’t always clear for the audience, which helps establish the horror tone Thompson is going for. James’s ankle injury is one such thing that becomes unclear if the severity is real or in his head. Figuring out exactly what that injury represents is part of the psychological aspect the film is pushing on for its horror themes.
There were a few editing choices early in the film that felt like mistakes or lack of coverage, but those visual choices appear to make sense once sitting through the entirety of the film. An early sequence depicts James using a shoe horn to put his loafers on – an action I’ve never witnessed a young person do in real life. It felt like an odd character trait, and the sequencing of the shot with the editing felt a bit jarring. However, that ankle injury later in the film helps justify the focus on this odd character tick. Thompson’s understanding of the form becomes apparent, as these early shots help pay off later narrative components.
I wasn’t fully pulled into this film, but I found enough in it to keep me focused overall. Flanigan’s presence was an extra bonus, as her performance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) was one of my favorites that year. However, she’s not given a ton to do in this film – but she still shows a lot of talent in the scenes she is given. Overall, Rounding didn’t disappoint and has made me want to watch Thompson’s previous film. Rounding earns the Decent Watch rating.