by Michael Moore
Michael Moore is undoubtedly the most recognizable and controversial figure in American documentary filmmaking. The far right hates him, but so does the far left, and everyone has her or his own opinion about who Moore is as a person and as a filmmaker. In the past he has been called inflammatory, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. Critics cite his inability to make solid, well-grounded points, and timid, middle-of-the-roaders complain that he is too heavy handed. His latest film, SiCKO, finds Moore flirting with all of the above opinions and then some, but I loved it, nonetheless.
8 / 10
From the onset of the film, Moore fires up his blender and does what he has always done best, purées pleasure and pain, comedy and tragedy, melding it all together into one gigantic, uniquely American smoothie. Will his arguments convince HMO and privatized health care advocates of their wrongdoing and ensure that the good ol' U.S. of A will adopt a government-run universal heath care or single-payer system? Not in your wildest dreams. However, the film will catapult the subject of health care back into the public sphere, and we can only hope, back into the ears and hearts of Congress.
There are a few holes in Moore's arguments throughout the film, not the least of which surfaces when he reveals a World Health Organization document that ranks the United States as #37 on a list of the world's health care systems, which, as Moore laments, lands us just ahead of lowly Slovenia. On the same document, however, Cuba is ranked #39, and thus, SiCKO's finale, which is centered around an illegal nautical voyage to Cuba in search of free and quality health care for 9/11 rescue workers without insurance, loses a bit of its lustre. Like many of Moore's documentaries, however, SiCKO is successful because where facts and figures fall short, emotions run high. And let's be honest, how could anyone not crack a smile while watching Michael Moore romanticize universal health care whilst gallivanting around Canada, England, France, and Cuba with that crinkled-brow, faux confused look on his face? It gets me every time.
In this entertaining and emotional (read: hilarious and incredibly depressing) documentary, it seems that Michigan's most infamous son did exactly what he wanted to do. He entertained his audience, raised a few questions, got a few partial, subjective answers, and perhaps most importantly, pissed off some Republicans and Libertarians in the process. I'm not optimistic that SiCKO will single-handedly bring about change in the American health care system, but like Moore's other films, it helped reinvigorate my convictions on the issue at hand, and I'm certain that it will do the same for you, too, regardless of whether you think that Americans should have to continue to pay out of their asses to stay healthy.