Andy Abrahams Wilson’s documentary “Under Our Skin” focuses on Lyme disease – where it came from, what damage it can do, and (supposedly) why the medical profession is not doing enough to deal with the havoc brought by the disease.
Although originally identified three decades ago, Lyme disease is still baffling doctors. Many patients are routinely misdiagnosed or abruptly told they are imagining their pains because it is still difficult to properly identify the presence of the disease. The film offers profiles of several people whose lives have been disrupted by the debilitating effects of this medical emergency.
In its favor, the film works in explaining how the cause and effect of the disease. Animation and laboratory photography of the Lyme disease microbes detail the havoc brought about by the disease’s carrier, a deer tick roughly the size of a poppy seed.
However, the film repeatedly insists on a vast medical conspiracy that is intentionally downplaying the importance of the disease, almost to the point of trivializing it. Yet this presentation is somewhat one-sided: the film offers no one coming on camera and specifically stating as much. “Under” is overstuffed with people who claim their Lyme disease was not correctly diagnosed, but that type of medical incompetence is hardly unique to this particular illness.
Furthermore, Wilson overstuffs the film with endless artsy shots of nature – helicopter sweeps across autumn forests, dreamy views of moonlight beaches, even a spider in a dew-covered web. Cut away these distractions and “Under Our Skin” would be a much shorter and much more serious medical documentary instead of a 35mm Hallmark card.