Film Review: The Providers
“Last year, 70,000 deaths in rural America could have been prevented with better access to health care.” Those words open Laura Green and Anna Moot-Levin’s The Providers, which looks at several health care providers in and around Las Vegas, New Mexico, a small community where the per capita income is slightly above $16,000 and where opioid addiction is a huge problem. These are not wealthy, golf-playing doctors we’re talking about here: These physicians treat the most desperate, impoverished people, regardless of their ability to pay—and they also recognize that in many cases they’re the only ones keeping these people from an early grave.
It’s a huge subject for a film—tackling urgent issues that can be found all across the country—but Green and Moot-Levin wisely maintain their focus on three physicians and several of their regular patients. This allows us to get to know all these people better: In the case of the patients, we can start to understand their addictions and illnesses; in the case of the doctors, we see the personal, emotional, and professional struggles they face. One young doctor has to deal with his father’s and sister’s addictions even as he has to keep a brave, happy face for his patients and for the medical workers he oversees.
The result is a picture that speaks both to these individuals’ specific experiences and the challenges faced by many all across the nation. This is a powerful look at a major ongoing American crisis, with no solution in sight. —BE
Photo: Adria Malcolm
Cheri Roybal sits on her trailer’s steps on a summer afternoon in Villanueva, New Mexico.