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Manipulations in 'Evidence of Harm' veer dental risk documentary toward fiction

The documentary "Evidence of Harm" attempts to drill into viewers' heads the potential dangers of the mercury contained in amalgam silver dental fillings. Conspiracy theories incite paranoia as if this were a commercial for a personal-injury lawyer soliciting a class-action suit. A sensationalistic score punctuates the proceedings à la the local evening news.

Since his due-diligence efforts were rebuffed by the American Dental Assn. and the Food and Drug Administration in their declining of interview requests, director Randall Moore doubles down on the already ex parte narrative with heavy-handed editorializing. He liberally splices stock-footage inserts into testimonials, to the point that it's comparable to putting words in the interviewees' mouths.

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Nashville broadcast journalist Stacy Case recalls her visit to the dentist's office, which Moore illustrates with endless barrels of biohazard material and a man in a creepy hazmat suit. Then he visualizes Case's description of her multiple sclerosis symptoms as an incinerating baby doll, ants crawling out of a hole, a ringing clock, a clanging jackhammer and a buzzing circular saw. Moreover, he superimposes words and images onto newspapers, TV screens, billboards and Jumbotrons. These kinds of manipulative flourishes constantly threaten to steer the film away from fact and toward fiction.

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"Evidence of Harm."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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