Eric Merola, a former art director of commercials, is either unusually credulous, or doesn’t understand the difference between a documentary and an advertisement, or has an undisclosed relationship with the subject of his allegedly nonfiction first film. Consciously or not, Merola is shilling madly for Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a Polish-born physician who has run afoul of federal authorities and shown up on several quackometers for his claim to have cured scores of patients of a lethal brain cancer with a treatment derived from human urine. Burzynski’s smooth patter and bad dye job don’t clinch the case against him—though how he gained the trust of desperate patients is anybody’s guess—but neither do they mitigate the powerful stench that rises from his plaintive cries of victimization by “jealous” government agencies. Narrated in a weirdly robotic voiceover, Burzynski violates every basic rule of ethical filmmaking: Merola interviews only Burzynski’s supporters, produces no patient records other than the doctor’s own, and offers no credible proof of the drug’s success and no data about its side effects, even as he slams chemotherapy and radiation. Who’s the bigger charlatan—Burzynski or Merola—and why is this conspiratorial rubbish being released into theaters?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 1, 2010