'The Business of Disease': Film Review

A typical infomercial offers better production values and more coherent arguments

Sonia Barrett's documentary decries the pernicious effects of the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

According to her website, debuting documentary filmmaker Sonia Barrett "has been a seeker of more expansive knowledge since childhood." She majored in voice at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and pursued a career in the entertainment industry. It also notes, "Her curiosities of the journey led her to further studies of the science of the body and the process by which it is interwoven into the third dimensional matrix; a matrix spiraling out of an infinite number of other matrixes. Self-empowerment is the foundation of all that she shares. Dependency is not encouraged. Her layman understanding of Quantum Physics widens her ability to intercept the simultaneous nature of timelines."

Well, alrighty now! Apparently that layman understanding has prompted her to make a documentary decrying the medical and pharmaceutical industries while advocating the power of self-healing and a holistic approach to wellness. The result is The Business of Disease, in which a lot of experts you've never heard of offer comments espousing New Age philosophies ranging from the sillily obvious to the obviously silly.

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The film begins reasonably enough, with hard-to-argue-with quotes by the likes of Hippocrates and Thomas Edison. But the ensuing proceedings, dealing with a wide-ranging array of topics including the decimation of the honeybees, antibiotics in livestock and "yeast overgrowth"— you'll just have to see the film if you're curious about the latter — would be enough to make Marianne Williamson throw up her arms.

The interview subjects are given such descriptions as "Author/Researcher," "Author/Lecturer" and "Author/Former Pharmaceutical Executive," with all offering damning testimony about the pernicious marketing tactics of the medical and drug industries. We also hear from numerous doctors and scientists, as well as a composer who's created an album designed to promote sleep. How does one know if it works? If you don't get to hear the end of it, he quite reasonably suggests.

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Unintentional hilarious moments abound, such as when doctor struggles to remember the name of a particular condition before finally coming up with the answer: Alzheimer's disease.

Clearly made on a budget approaching four figures, the film features unattractively shot interview segments that are occasionally accompanied by stock photos and stiffly staged dramatic footage that wouldn't be out of place in an erectile dysfunction drug commercial.

This is not to say that there isn't plenty of obvious truth and common sense in many of the film's assertions. But then again, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Production: Dreamspell Productions
Director/producer/narrator: Sonia Barrett
Director of photography: Danny Belinke
Editors: Marco Magni, Mark Savage

No rating, 88 minutes

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