Excerpt taken from a review originally published in The New York Times.
A feel-good documentary that’s literally about making people feel good, “Bending the Arc” dives into the quagmire of global health care with the sunny insouciance and can-do brio of its primary subjects, the doctors Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim, two founders of Partners in Health.
As young medical students volunteering in rural Haiti in the early 1980s, both were appalled by the lack of basic health care available in a region ravaged by tuberculosis and other ailments. By dint of compassion, cussedness and innovation — like training ordinary villagers to act as community health visitors — the two would go on to build clinics and create programs that could be imitated worldwide.
Gathering collaborators along the way — including a wealthy philanthropist and their group’s president, Ophelia Dahl (the daughter of the author Roald Dahl) — the men refused to be deterred by institutional rigidity, political apathy or a skeptical scientific community. Their perseverance is cheering, giving the movie a brightly buoyant tone that belies the suffering at its center and renders the sometimes distracting musical score largely unnecessary.