Directed By Weixi Chen and Hao Wu
The Plot – Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan.
Rated PG-13 for bleak and disparaging situations
Analysis – Over the next couple of years, a series of post-Covid documentaries will inevitably see the light of day, but none with the kind of realistic effectiveness that “76 Days” maintains with its unique aspects of production to easily immerse us within ground zero of this evolving pandemic. Most apparent is the fearlessness of photography from the crew, who like the heroes of the medical staff themselves, navigated through life threatening circumstances within the hospital, all for the purpose of compelling cinema. The many spontaneous angles bringing forth unnerving claustrophobia in the face of its victims breathes an air of insurmountable tension that isn’t limited or inconsistent with the merits of the movie’s presentation, all the while bottling an invisibility in conjunction with their counterparts that gives the experience a fly on the wall aspect with regards to the riveting beats of life that the crew capture so magnificently. In addition to this, the lack of overhead narration and itemized sections within the structure of a typical documentary not only gives this an untouched honesty in the context of its many scenes that refuse to push an agenda, but also vividly paints the bleak and terrifying experience for workers that often obscured time together as one continuous day in routine. In fact, aside from this being a real time documentary within the first few chapters of the Covid pandemic, it’s also a love-letter to medical professionals everywhere, conveying a brave resiliency that couldn’t be shook in constant over-exhaustion and thankless predicaments. There are very few negatives to the experience, but they do exist, mostly with the on-screen text in subtitles for the dialogue that at times feel obscured by a similar color pallet being displayed on-screen, resulting in several lapses in clarity that could’ve been resolved with a black outline in text. The only other problem is some unavoidable brushes with pacing that comes as a result of a repetitious formula. The formula itself serves its own creative intentions, as previously touched upon, but it makes 93 minutes of a sit all the more tedious for the way it refuses to ever deviate for the benefit of the long haul. Even still, “76 Days” is a raw and engrossing film that even still is full of such timely resonance, prescribing hope in the hopeless with the determination of the human spirit, which can be bent but never broken.
My Grade: 8/10 or A-