October 25, 2021

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‘The First Wave’ Review: A Brave Cinematic Time Capsule

4 min read

With his breathtaking, soul-piercing “First Wave,” director Matthew Heinemann offers a solid cinematic proposition. He told his audience to go back to March 2020 and relive the first, scary days of the Covid-1 crisis in New York City, when the Big Apple quickly became the center of the world’s coronavirus in four deadly months.

More graphic than two similarly themed non-fiction films – Nanfu Wang’s “In the Same Breath” and Hao Wu and Wixi Chen’s “76 Days” – Heinman’s documentary is hard to agree at first, far from the end considering the global catastrophic epidemic. But even when high-adrenaline “The First Wave” gets a very clear touch for its own good with the shots inside the morgue truck, glancing at the newly sealed body bags and closing the eyelids to the threshold of lifelessness, it’s also a necessary and undeniable experience and reflection. To move towards.

In its most beautiful moments, Heinmann’s character-driven, heavy-style film that follows the days of a group of doctors, nurses and patients at the Queens-based Long Island Jewish Medical Center between 2020 and March 2020 ভাগ the unimaginable access if shares the ifying consciousness of that meaningful work. By doing so, the filmmaker follows in the footsteps of “Cartel Land” and “City of Ghosts” as the ground and humanitarian perspective within an unfolding crisis. Indeed, “The First Wave” primarily honors the country’s frontline workers with the courage they have shown in hospitals flooded by patients carrying an unknown, dangerous disease. (Spoiler: It’s significantly worse than you ever imagined.)

In that case, Heinmann’s brave and wonderful cinematic time capsule (which never mentions Trump) is a salute to that heroism, so precise in its annoying visuals that you can only see it on this side of the epidemic when some resemblance to naturalness was widely accessible. Done. During this time listeners will often break down in tears, and sometimes get angry, learn how vaccine rejection continues to burden the country’s healthcare workers who deserve long-term breaks. In the wake of the assassination of George Floyd and the perception of racism as an urgent public health crisis, they will go ahead with a sharp tool to connect the dots between the May 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

One of the main personalities that Heinman follows is Dr. Nathalie Duggy, a self-interested physician who unfairly observes the proportions where communities of color are first affected by the virus. Acting here as an editor and cinematographer, Heinmann portrays Dr. Dou Doug very touchingly, his journey as a dedicated healthcare provider, and later, a promising activist resented the BLM protests as a citizen, annoyed by the disrespect of the people of a racist system. Doing. He worked tirelessly to save his life. She was joined primarily by nurse Kelly Unash – a volunteer from a quick response team who often attends indescribable tragic moments – and physical therapist Carl Arabian, tasked with helping patients recover.

Heinman’s intimate camera shares intense moments of loss, frustration, and heartbreak between this trio and a constantly changing group of the unknown and the other crew. These parables shine through in the extraordinary dignity of treating, comforting and even cuddling their lonely patients, unimaginably refraining from bad news, shouting for a minute to family members, attending a zoom birthday and unarmed optimists “the sun comes here” every time a patient is hospitalized Successfully exits the ventilator.

Naturally, patients also contribute to the core of the elastic passion about New York City. One is Ahmed Ellis, a NYPD school safety officer in his mid-thirties. Married to Alexis Ellis (an essential healthcare worker), he contracted a serious case of the virus in the early days of the epidemic, while his diligent wife is at the forefront of caring for both of them, both in town and at home, with their two young children. The second patient was Brussels Javan, an immigrant and a pregnant nurse who received an emergency c-section before going on a ventilator. Sometimes an emotionally heavy hand but mostly respectable, Heinman carefully follows their painful battle on the path to recovery, smartly underscoring the emotional identity and even the individual identity of his generation as a man of color in humor, law enforcement and healthcare when appropriate.

At times, it’s impossible to think about whether the “first wave” is too early, especially since Heinman’s occasional sensational aesthetic is felt in a heartbreaking score and footage spots that come dangerously close to a Hollywood thriller. It’s understandable to be annoyed by this, and Andrew Cuomo, the former governor of New York (who admitted at the time that he gave much-needed local leadership to a troubled city and state). But what is undeniable is the immense value and importance of “first wave” journalism. Both are important parts of the historical record that contain the invisible horrors of the epidemic and the liberal celebration of human dignity whose existence is considered miraculous.

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