|Mike Moore examines the state of the US health care service and finds it's not especially well.||score
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Rating / Running Time
PG / 118 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
Polemicist Michael Moore made the jump from appreciated documentarian to household name with Bowling for Columbine. It wasn’t necessarily the subject matter, nor the Academy Award winning qualities of his film. It was that acceptance speech in which he vilified President Bush to a booing chorus inside the auditorium, and a cheering world outside. He went on to make one of the most-seen documentaries of our time – Fahrenheit 9/11 – in which he raised serious questions about the US administration’s reaction to the attacks of September 2001. Moore became a superstar and created a cottage industry in which he became the object of vilification, most recently in Manufacturing Dissent. They claim his methods are dishonest and Good Guy Moore is the public persona for an untrustworthy, paranoid and unlikeable man who picked on Charlton Heston. Boo hoo.
Brushing aside the ants, Moore turns his attention to the state of America’s notoriously inadequate health care. Sicko examines the cost of illness in the US, literally and metaphorically. With trademark bravado, humour, irony and pathos, he compares their system with that of Britain, France, Canada and Cuba. The results will make your stomach churn. From unbearable costs worn by the unwell to sneaky insurance companies and profit-motivated hospital networks who dump cash-strapped patients on the footpath, Moore lays bare a government endorsed plan (President Nixon paved the way for corporate, rather than socially, managed health care) that is well and truly sick. For added emphasis he stages a series of stunts - notably taking struggling 9/11 volunteers to Guantanamo Bay – with typically entertaining results.
That they end up in a suspiciously shiny Cuban hospital raises the question of whether absolute fact should get in the way of the documentary process. Do the ends justify the means? Dissenters argue that he distorts truth for his cause, that of Showman Mike. Others like Moore believe that cameras automatically subvert truth; it’s a natural part of documentary filmmaking. Argument aside, Sicko is packed with cause for concern and pause for thought. It is insightful filmmaking at its most creative. It is a film that makes one truly thankful you don’t rely on American health-care. It is a wakeup call not to vote for a guy in the pocket of drug companies. It makes you consider moving to France.
// COLIN FRASER