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A Film review: Michael Moore's Sicko

Posted by Daniel / July 3, 2007

Say what you will about Michael Moore but the man knows how to make a point. His new documentary Sicko, which is the third installment in what has essentially become an anti-American doc-trilogy (the first two being Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 911) takes aim at the U.S health care system—or in this case the lack thereof.

The main difference here is that in previous films, Moore’s personality tended to overwhelm and undermine the subject matter at hand, whereas in Sicko, Moore takes a relative backseat and allows the facts to do most of the talking. And how could he not. What unfolds is a scathing indictment of America’s privatized health care and the shady HMO’s that run it. It’s devastating stuff.

Moore has a knack for finding the saddest of sacs, the hardest of hard luck stories, and using them in his favour. It’s easy to label his tactics as exploitative and many of his critics have. But there’s an undeniable human factor in Moore’s films that separates them from the rest of the pack. He has mastered the art of the “slow-zoom-as-talking-head-begins-to-cry” technique.

In Sicko, Moore begins by aiming his lens at various Americans—most of them lower-class—as they recount their healthcare horror stories—obscene tales of repeated denial and utter disregard for essential operations and treatments (some resulting in death), perpetrated by the faceless drones that run America’s top health insurance providers. It’s a classic case of the little man being wronged by the big one. This is Moore’s bread and butter.

After so many stories of wrongdoing, the film starts to lag, but finds its legs again when Moore visits what he deems to be utopian examples of universal health care in England, France, and of course, Moore’s home away from home –Canada. You see, we have it better than our southern cousins because we don’t have to pay, and we don’t have to wait. Anyone who has been to the emergency room at the Royal Vic can attest that only the former is true, but it’s a Michael Moore documentary so we’re supposed to take everything at face value, right?

The film reaches its emotional climax when Moore takes 9/11 workers who have suffered severe respiratory damage from their work in ground zero, to Cuba where they’re treated immediately and graciously by a medical staff that’s ideologically opposed to those in the U.S. The stunt is classic Michael Moore. It’s overblown, overwrought, anti-American, and of course, like the rest of the film—it works.

Sicko is playing at Cinema Du Parc and The AMC Forum.



Ivan / July 5, 2007 at 03:06 pm
He (or anyone else) could have made a horror movie about the Canadian Healthcare
system but there's not enough money to be made from such a film.... To bad reality aint fiction ....
Van / July 8, 2007 at 09:24 pm
Yea so people have to wait in Canada, there's flaws in every system.
At least Canadians know they will eventually be treated. They aren't simply ignored...
When we go to the hospital we think about being treated instead of whether we can afford it or not..

Maybe there are stories of Canadians who died waiting, I never heard of them personally...
I believe in the Canadian system!
p o i s o n e d * / July 9, 2007 at 08:43 pm
I heard Canadians dying because the wait was too long... Well, it was in Quebec. I hope the health system is not that bad in the other provinces.
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