A long chronicle of the global fight against the coronavirus, “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis,” directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, makes too much of the impression that we are sitting down to watch the pandemic unfold again.
With eight stories from different countries – the United States, Britain, Brazil, China, India, Iran, and Peru – the documentary is so sprawling it’s overwhelming. The observational approach to its segments, which trace the arc of the coronavirus throughout 2020, is grueling to watch. And the film is interspersed with cheesy covers of inspirational songs that gave me traumatic flashbacks to the infamous “Imagine” video.
However, some truly moving examples of individual courage and compassion do come to light. In a neat narrative maneuver, Einseidel draws us into seemingly ordinary stories of courage, only to reveal them as extraordinary. We follow Hassan Akkad, a cleaner for the National Health Service in London, and learn that he has been tortured in Syria and has a phobia of hospitals. There is also Renata Alves, a volunteer with an ambulance service in the Paraisópolis favela in São Paulo, Brazil, who reveals that she was once incarcerated and suffers from prejudice even as she provides a essential service.
Natural and political crises emerge as bedfellows in these stories, culminating in a gripping montage of Black Lives Matter protests around the world. Still, the film’s critical side seems blunted by platitudes (“Opportunities are born out of crises,” says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization), not to mention the exhaustion viewers are likely to feel. by reliving the first memories of the pandemic still ongoing for nearly two hours.
Convergence: courage in times of crisis
Rated R for up close glimpses of illness and death. Duration: 1 hour 53 minutes. In the movies and on Netflix.