Film Review: The Connection
Directed by Shannon Harvey
Journalist Shannon Harvey’s documentary begins with the director explaining how at the height of her career as a newscaster, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Her film, however, is less a personal tale of recovery than an exploration of what more and more people are discovering—that the mind has healing powers of its own, and that modern science needs to reestablish this “connection” between the mind and the body.
Harvey interviews scientists, doctors, thinkers, and ordinary people who describe their own experiences as well as the science and research behind the mind–body connection—for example, how the “fight-or-flight” response can trigger all sorts of bodily processes that can in turn have adverse effects on health. Similarly, we learn how sometimes the way we interpret research can lead us astray; for example, how we’ve taken the “brain’s own healing mechanism” and renamed it “The Placebo Effect,” thus discrediting its scientific value.
These are valuable insights, and many of the interviews Harvey features are fascinating. However, the overly glossy presentation of her film, replete with drippy, wall-to-wall music, often makes it feel like an expensive infomercial. That’s an unfortunate stylistic choice, and it may have some impact on how the film is received: A more sober exploration of this world would have been more effective in making this case to the skeptics—the very people who need to be convinced if this kind of more holistic thinking is to make inroads into the public at large.