The Reel Review
Anthony Fauci, America’s leading immunologist in the COVID pandemic, is profiled in this National Geographic documentary on Disney+. The film shows how a boy from a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn rose to prominence, first during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, then through SARS, Ebola, and now, COVID-19.
For anyone thinking this is a light puff piece think again. Fauci addresses his frustrations in working with the Trump administration in 2020 as we learn more about him as a husband, father and workaholic. Filmmakers wisely lean into the furor surrounding Fauci during the AIDS crisis, illustrating that for Fauci, public politicization of health crises is nothing new. What Fauci says IS new, is the level of vitriol and death threats right wing anti-vaxxers have leveled against him and his family. We see a deeply personal side of Fauci in the film.
Parts of the documentary drag and with a runtime of one hour and 44 minutes, Fauci is probably about 15 minutes too long. But anyone approaching the documentary with an open mind will have a newfound appreciation for Fauci, his decades long passion for science and his life of public service.
• Filmmakers John Hoffman and Janet Tobias say they did not pay Anthony Fauci to participate in the documentary, nor did he have creative control over its portrait of him, nor is he profiting from the film.
• Anthony Fauci has served under seven U.S. presidents since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
• In 2008, President George George Bush awarded Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, for his work on the AIDS relief program PEPFAR. Fauci currently is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.