Set in the year 3040, WHITE DWARF is a peculiar mix of sci-fi and fantasy detailing the emotional growth of a doctor serving an internship on the remote planet of Rosta. The film's rich, detailed setting cannot compensate for the lack of a coherent plot.
The planet Rosta, which circles a white dwarf star, does not rotate on its axis; thus one side of the world is always in the sun--the other, in night. A centuries-old civil war between the light and dark sides may soon end with the signing of a peace accord.
Shallow young Dr. Driscoll Rampart (Neal McDonough) arrives on Rosta from Earth for his internship. He arrogantly tells clinic head Dr. Akada (Paul Winfield) that he intends to serve out his six months as painlessly as he can and collect a few anecdotes for his Park Avenue practice back home. But
Driscoll is transformed by the tragic cases he meets in the clinic, specifically three children who are permanent residents there. He grows attached to a young boy named "Never" (Joey Andrews) who is afflicted with a strange disorder that causes him to take the forms of other people and animals.
Dr. Akada introduces Driscoll to the planet's politics with visits to the Light Side Governor's Hacienda, a prison straddling the Light and Dark border, and the Dark Side Palace, where Driscoll meets the beautiful Princess Ariel (Ele Keats).
While they are in Dark Side, peaceable King Joist (Robert Cornthwaite) is betrayed and murdered by his Lieutenant and Ariel's fiance, Strake (Michael McCrady). The crime is revealed by Dr. Akada, and Ariel condemns Strake to the prison.
Returning to the Light Side, Driscoll's personal growth is spurred when Never falls deathly ill. While Dr. Akada tends to the boy's fever, Driscoll and the other children travel to the Sea of Tears, an ocean with waves the color of blood. There, he fully accepts Rosta's mysticism and aids the
children in calling back Never's soul--whereupon the child recovers. Driscoll leaves Rosta for Earth when his internship is up, but returns six months later, this time intending to stay.
A broad panorama of a film, WHITE DWARF was written by Bruce Wagner (creator of the miniseries "The Wild Palms"), who creates a richly detailed world. The duality of Rosta is evenly handled, with neither side portrayed as wholly good or bad. However, the film's potential is badly marred by an
incoherent plot which is unable to sustain the setting and characters. Dramatic conflicts are practically non-existent and the various plots are given too little time to develop. At the same time, there is so much going on that the drama of Driscoll's self-discovery gets shortchanged. While there
is some action in the film, none of it is terribly relevant to the plot. Significant events occur during the film, but potential narrative momentum is stolen by the characters themselves, who discover things too soon or resolve things too easily. WHITE DWARF is nothing more than an interesting
diversion. (Violence, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Set in the year 3040, WHITE DWARF is a peculiar mix of sci-fi and fantasy detailing the emotional growth of a doctor serving an internship on the remote planet of Rosta. The film's rich, detailed setting cannot compensate for the lack of a coherent plot.… (more)