Aza’s 2 Line Review – House Of Numbers (2009) – The Battle Of Understanding HIV/AIDS Wages On. A Convoluted & Muddled Documentary With A Few Incendiary Thoughts

The HIV/AIDS argument – what causes it? What actually is it? Can you actually define and separate the two? Does it really exist? – It will wage on for years to come. There’s plenty of celebrated articles and novels around the birth of HIV and the outbreak of AIDS (Randy Schilts’ And The Band Played On is still one of the most terrifying, honest and searing insightful investigations into the role the U.S. played in the AIDS Epidemic – do read the book, it’s essential) yet there is still so much greyness around the proper understanding of it.

HOUSE OF NUMBERS, a visual essay from writer/director Brent W. Leung, attempts to dispel the rumours and also to bring to light what he sees as massive flaws in the diagnoses and treatments of the HIV patients.

Whilst there are valid arguments laid out in this documentary, there’s never enough exploratory back up to give much of what he says full kudos. Sure, it’s enough to make you stop and think (or if you are anything like me – hit the books and do some more digging) but there’s no slam dunks here.

Criticising the inaccuracies in the diagnosing processes worldwide along with the huge gaps between actual statistical data and publicly published estimates is pretty incendiary stuff if you’re going up against world health organisations but without really showing any figures or going to those bodies and saying “Hey – I think you got your figures wrong” is kind of like promising a hamburger and only giving us the bun.

Leung’s passion is ever present – you cannot deny it. His plethora of doctors and scientists, patients and families are all intriguing enough – but as HOUSE OF NUMBERS winds on his arguments become less and less about finding truth and more about debasing current methods.

I’m all for continual revision and renewal of practices and am mad for constructive criticism but if there is nothing really on the back end – no suggestions to carry forward – rather just being left with unanswered questions – you’re never going to move me anymore than you when you started.

This topic is one of the most important topics of contemporary man and my hat goes off to Leung for chasing his passions too. HOUSE OF NUMBERS asks a lot of questions, makes lots of assertions, but in its bid to put so many “But Wait Look At This” scenarios in front of you – it gets lost in its own message.

HOUSE OF NUMBERS is fully streamable on YOUTUBE.