Director Andy Abrahams Wilson casts a wide net in his pissed-off, passionate film about Lyme disease. He not only profiles a handful of long-term patients—who describe years of being told their debilitating, maddeningly diverse symptoms are psychosomatic and recount the toll that chronic illness took on their marriages, professional lives and finances—but also takes aim at the insurance industry and the American medical establishment. The documentarian uncovers compelling evidence of complicity to manipulate treatment guidelines and punish noncompliant doctors by suspending their licenses; when money and medicine are in conflict, the money wins. It’s the same argument Michael Moore made in Sicko, but it bears repeating.
Wilson is unabashedly on the side of the patients and the “Lyme literate” doctors dedicated to treating them. But he gives solid screen time to physicians who describe it as a straightforward, treatable infection with a limited range of non-life-threatening symptoms; the gulf between the two positions is alarming. The trouble with Lyme, the film stops just short of suggesting, is that the medical industry would like to wish the disease away because it’s such a pain in the ass. A word to the wise: Don’t be so cavalier about tick avoidance unless you want to test out that theory for yourself.—Maitland McDonagh
Opens Fri; IFC. Find showtimes