Under Our Skin -- Film Review

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NEW YORK -- Both informative and persuasive, "Under Our Skin" targets both the heart and brain to advocate for the Lyme disease community. For those suffering from chronic Lyme, the terror of the disease is matched by a medical community that cannot agree on its treatment, and insurance companies that refuse to pay for it. Director Andy Abrahams Wilson inserts us into the frustrating struggle between patients afflicted with a disease and those who think it exists only in their heads.

Interviews with patients who can barely walk, exhibit tremors and confront neurological problems are backed up by interviews with doctors and researchers who describe the spirally bacteria that cause the disease. Like "The Business of Being Born," which advocates medical practices that go against the norm, "Under Our Skin" should have a long life on DVD as it is recommended to those who are affected. As the film notes, Lyme disease is now found nearly everywhere, making the doc precautionary viewing for those who live near the wooded areas deer ticks call home.

Shooting with a high-definition camera, Wilson imbues the wooded habitat of the deer tick with a lush, saturated palette. Under his lens, the quintessentially American surroundings seem both beautiful and dangerous. The attention to visuals extends to animated segments that clarify medical and legal issues, and even a testimonial section has stylistic punch. Unified by a white-lit background, a chorus of sufferers reels off laundry lists of misdiagnoses, symptoms and the various occasions they were told they needed to see a psychologist, not a doctor.

Policy-makers and doctors on both sides of the Lyme debate receive screen time, though the film convincingly points out the naysayers' conflicts of interest. Those unfamiliar with Lyme disease receive a 101 in its origin, treatment and spread. With considerably more unity and coherence than a Google search, the doc effectively eliminates much misinformation about the disease.

Wilson also highlights new research from Dr. Alan Macdonald, who discovered a biofilm that protects the bacteria. Skeptics may find themselves swayed by the fascinating comparisons of Lyme disease to syphilis. Both are caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria, start with a mere rash, but cause neurological problems decades later. The latter disease has centuries of medical observation and research on its side, along with effective diagnosis and treatment.

For an ailment more defined by the unknown than the known, Wilson sheds much-needed light and direction. Wilson's own sister and friend have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which may explain the emotion and urgency with which he persuades us.

Opens: June 19, NYC, June 26, L.A. (Shadow Distribution)
Production company: Open Eye Pictures
Director/screenwriter/producer: Andy Abrahams Wilson
Senior Producer: Kris Newby
Co-Producers: Cheryl Drake, Eve Morgenstern
Executive producers: The Swartz Foundation
Photographer: Andy Abrahams Wilson.
Music: Justin Melland
Editor: Eva Ilona Brzeski
No rating, 104 minutes
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