In the Same Breath stirs up latent emotions for those of us who have lost loved ones, friends, and people in our communities. This is because the news, White House briefings, expert interviews, and other media footage all providing explanations in early 2020 didn’t offer any comfort then. Now, looking back a year later, it is all quite shocking. To think nurses and doctors fired because of their instinctive need to care for people and knowing there was a lack of supplies to do so is unacceptable. Wang tells the stories of those who have no recourse to the loss of their loved ones except for devotion to the motherland, which comes into question but remains unresolved. There is no free speech in China, and it’s apparent in Chinese news broadcasts that damning the U.S. democracy as a failure, which they did in the handling of the pandemic, is part of their propaganda machine to keep communism shiny and bright.
In the U.S., rising distrust of government exists on the opposite end of the spectrum, as In the Same Breath shows the protests of people feeling an infringement on their freedoms. People died, and the numbers never lie even when a government does.
“…engaging interviews, images, facts, and incredible use of social media…”
But there’s a more powerful message that the director is sending us, and we all need to listen up. Her perspective on how the government is not working on its people’s behalf is very apparent, especially as she parallels the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries. The confusion and distrust of leadership were all but magnified by the coronavirus, which the documentary proves via engaging interviews, images, facts, and incredible use of social media where those opposing party lines have disappeared or vanished, including doctors and journalists. In China, it’s blatant. In the U.S., it’s a quagmire.
As 2021 arrived, Wuhan celebrated their New Year’s almost identical to that of 2020, as if the virus was a very distant memory. To its credit, In the Same Breath leaves us with this image of 2021 and a question that something larger and more destructive than COVID-19 might be on the horizon.
"…something larger and more destructive than COVID-19 might be on the horizon."