Remote Area Medical (2014)
During the U.S. debate about healthcare reform, the media-reporters and news crews and filmmakers-failed to put a human face on what it means to not have access to healthcare. This documentary fills that gap-it is a film about people, not policy. Focusing on a single three-day clinic held in the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, this film affords us an insider's perspective on the ebb and flow of the event-from the tense 3:30 a.m. ticket distribution that determines who gets seen to the routine check-ups that take dramatic turns for the worse, to the risky means to which some patients resort for pain relief. We meet a doctor who also drives an 18-wheeler, a denture maker who moonlights as a jeweler, and the organization's founder, Stan Brock, who first imagined Remote Area Medical while living as a cowboy in the Amazon rainforest, hundreds of miles from the nearest doctor. But it is the extraordinary stories of the patients, desperate for medical attention, that create a lasting impression about the state of modern health care in America. … More
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Critic Reviews for Remote Area Medical
This movie provides a snapshot of what health care in America was like for some people before many provisions of Obamacare took effect, and it is a depressing snapshot.
The filmmakers inspire deep admiration for the volunteers, but without reducing the patients to mere victims of our broken welfare system.
Deft, nonjudgmental, heartbreaking work. Calm fury: that's Remote Area Medical's most radical move in the present moment.
While the directors deliberately avoid taking an overt stance, they shape the film in a way that makes their position clear, and generally persuasive as well.
Like many modern documentaries with aspirations to theatrical distribution, the film confuses a lack of clarity with cinema verite integrity.
This deeply compassionate, quietly furious documentary ... highlights, in dramatic detail, the woeful lack of medical care available to residents of one Appalachian community-and, by extension, to many Americans.
From these subjects, you find out all you need to know in order to appreciate the magnitude of what RAM is doing, and the scope of the crisis affecting the rural poor.
Although the documentary can feel like a volunteer instructional video at times, the faces on those who have fallen through the cracks in the system speak volumes.
"Remote Area Medical" is an incredibly tragic movie. It's also an important one, reminding viewers that America is more than its coasts and cities. There are corners of the country we all too easily forget.
Stirringly conveys how a truly productive healthcare system-one that seriously addresses the ailments of the needy-would prize compassion, efficiency, and availability as highly as it does profit.
Reichert and Zaman don't editorialize, which keeps Remote Area Medical from being preachy, forceful, or didactic, but also leaves it feeling shapeless.
What the movie does most powerfully and poignantly is capture its subjects' desperation.
It maddeningly refuses to take a stand or explore the questions it raises.
Despite the subdued anger and drawn-out suffering on display, the documentary is primarily a work of hope.
Harrowing stuff, and Reichert and Zaman make it count: It's hard to watch and not feel galvanized.
Finding that the kind of huge medical-aid missions American charities send overseas are just as necessary within our borders, Remote Area Medical illuminates health-care ironies without preaching about them.
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