Morgellons is a mysterious illness whose sufferers claim causes horrible breakouts, hair loss, and most curiously, the growth of strange, multi-colored fibers that protrude from the skin. It’s very painful and its victims unsurprisingly often manifest severe anxiety and depression. It’s also very likely entirely psychosomatic. The Pain of Others, a fascinating documentary from director Penny Lane, is comprised almost entirely of homemade testimonials and video blogs from four women who are afflicted by this syndrome. The film makes no attempt to solve the mystery of Morgellons, or to offer any evidence for or against the diagnoses of its subjects; their pain is completely apparent, no matter if the source is bacterial or an allergic reaction, or some mental illness, or even out-and-out narcissism (all of which are quietly, but never unequivocally, suggested). Lane merely sees people whose pain demands a response.
Published as part of BAMcinemaFest 2018 | Dispatch 1.