DOXA 2018 review: The Pain of Others


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      The title is double-edged. Sufferers of Morgellons disease must endure the near blanket skepticism of the medical community, but also public ridicule and isolation. The three people portrayed in this heartbreaking doc eventually arrive at a kind of ontological collapse, vainly protesting their sanity against a climate of near universal othering.

      Penny Lane’s new film wants to engender some compassion for these women, using only their own (bravely) documented experiences on YouTube and a few news reports for context. The disease itself produces lesions and weird fibres that emerge from the skin (cue gross-out close-ups), along with the sense of infestation by something invisible.

      For the youngest of these women, Tasha, we witness a horrifying physical decline. If the condition is psychosomatic, as most argue, it nonetheless devastates its victims, leaving one to wonder if Morgellons is just altogether too strange and challenging to be handled by orthodox science.

      Admirably, The Pain of Others is built to tolerate this and any other viewer inquiry.