This month, let alone this year, seems to be really early to release a documentary about the current COVID-19 global pandemic. This film, Totally Under Control, concludes by stating that one day after wrapping President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus, which is an indication as to how wet the paint still is on this project. The release could be because, as we close in on this year’s presidential election, the documentary wants to serve as political influence and supply additional evidence towards why Donald Trump and his administration may not be fit for a second term.
In Totally Under Control, using health-conscious filmmaking and a fairly linear narrative, directors Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief), Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger study the past 9 months and, comparatively, showcase how specific regions prepared and reacted to COVID-19. The film’s main goal, however, is to elaborate on the United States’ total disregard for the fast-spreading virus, and how a missing sense of urgency and an inappropriate spin on fear and awareness provided the catalyst for ongoing disappointment.
While the film does a good job recognizing and explaining flaws, Totally Under Control provides fair criticisms towards improvement for the United States. Even if one of the solutions boils down to a seemingly basic reveal suggesting there needs to be more cooperation exhibited by Trump and his administration, the filmmakers are efficient at identifying the ripple effect when an integral step is spared to fuel an ego. It’s a densely packed documentary filled with information, references, and problem solving, but the filmmakers clearly want to include every wrinkle of data imaginable so viewers can be more aware of the severity behind this current pandemic.
In addition to the film’s maturity, Totally Under Control isn’t packaged as anti-Trump propaganda. But, the filmmakers are certainly not congratulating, or going easy on, the president’s efforts. The finished film, no matter how quickly it may have been submitted, is an educated and all-around culturally balanced doc.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie