November 23, 2007

A few Reviews

Movie image
3 out of 5 stars

   It has been three years since Michael Moore's last film, Fahrenheit 9/11, failed to both impress me and stop Bush getting re-elected. Three years for him to bow his baseball-capped head in despair. It would be understandable to presume that after taking on the most powerful government administration in the world, the poor left-wing fatman we all loved in Bowling for Columbine felt he had nowhere left to go and no subject to explore that would feel as important. Thankfully, however, with a central theme that seems less vital, Moore has made a film that is not only more coherent and better constructed, but, most importantly, feels more focused.

   Rather than feeling rushed and clumsy (admittedly, Moore had an important deadline to keep on Fahrenheit: the presidential elections), it would seem that the world's most successful documentarian took his time with Sicko, interviewing dozens of citizens that have suffered from America's lamentable healthcare system. Indeed, we are shown so many cases of medical injustice that Moore himself does not appear for the first 45 minutes of the film, leaving the families to speak for themselves. As expected, some of the cases are horrific and profoundly moving, and you feel Moore shifting into sentimental gear so often it's almost a relief once he appears on screen to inject a little of his trademark comedy into the proceedings. He is, of course, equally adept at transferring his audience's sadness into anger, and his exploration of the insurance companies and their policies truly hits the mark.

     Sadly, other sections of the film come off as weak: the links made between the healthcare system and the government are fascinating but not enough time is spent on them- perhaps the issue of lobbying should be the subject of a whole other movie- and the stunt of bringing patients to Guantanamo Bay, so important in the promotion of the documentary, ends up bringing Moore nowhere in particular in terms of the development of his themes. It is also true that, as Europeans, our countries are shown as left-wing havens, models of healthcare perfection, and it is grating for us to witness how Moore eschews the complete truth in favour of one that serves his purpose.

   Of course, the documentarian's reputation is such that one could only really expect a one-sided argument, and the approach of a polemic rather than a journalist. The important thing to remember is, his reputation is also of someone who deals in polemics extraordinarily well, and here he lives up to it. As far as I'm concerned, Michael Moore can raise his baseball-capped head up high again, and, hopefully, show more of it next year.

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