UNDER OUR SKIN
http://movies. nytimes.com/ 2009/06/19/ movies/19under. html?ref= movies
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: June 19, 2009
“Under Our Skin,” Andy Abrahams Wilson’s inflammatory documentary about the tick-borne ailment Lyme disease, is scary enough to make the faint of heart decide never to venture into the woods or to lie on the grass again without protective covering. The polemic takes awhile to get its guns lined up. But once it does, it takes aim at the medical establishment, in particular the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which has declared that chronic Lyme disease does not exist.
The film follows the quest by longtime sufferers increasingly debilitated from all manner of physical and neurological ailments to find effective treatment. Some have spent tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars going from doctor to doctor. Many are told that their suffering is psychosomatic.
Several doctors who have devoted their lives to research and treatment are interviewed. They compare chronic Lyme disease to A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, and one implies that it may be a contributing factor to such illnesses, for which there no known cure.
State medical boards, supported by the Infectious Diseases Society and backed by insurance companies, have pursued some of these renegade doctors and even suspended their medical licenses for prescribing expensive intravenous long-term antibiotic therapy. Several patients receiving such treatments rejoice that they have finally gotten their lives back. Heart-rending scenes earlier in the film show the same people when they were barely able to move and talk.
“Under Our Skin” makes no bones about its advocacy for these patients and for the doctors willing to treat them. Although the Infectious Diseases Society’s position is crisply stated by Dr. Gary Wormser, the chief writer of its treatment guidelines, the movie portrays him as the mouthpiece for an organization riddled with conflicts of interest.
UNDER OUR SKIN
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Produced and directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson; director of photography, Mr. Wilson; edited by Eva Ilona Brzeski; music by Justin Melland; released by Shadow Distribution. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. This film is not rated.