with any michael moore film review there is a blurring of the typical film review lines. for example, does one review the validity of his argument or his public persona or the film’s technical and artistic merits? i suppose it’s appropriate to include all of the above so long as it’s balanced and one remembers that the film should be the primary subject.
sicko looks at the broken healthcare system in america. luckily moore has chosen, this time, to look at an issue where everyone can agree on the fundamental premise (that being that our healthcare system is fundamentally flawed and is not working, especially for the unemployed (like me) and poor (also like me). he compares our system to that of canada, france and england and reaches the conclusion that their system is more equitable and more in keeping with the spirit of healthcare. i couldn’t agree more. in doing this, though, he smoothes over some of the consequences of our system and their systems. for example, our system encourages more investment and development because there is more money to be had. meanwhile, the canadian system does lack the quantity of high tech equipment and does sometimes have large queues for more serious procedures such as hip replacement surgery. we also have a lower tax burden than many other countries with “socialized” healthcare systems (including the three aforementioned nations), and some would argue that there no such thing as a free lunch in this regard. i think it would have been useful to examine the more privatized systems of germany and australia because i think they would be more palatable to middle america, but maybe i’m wrong.
we see less of moore in this film than in his others, and i think this is by design. there was a backlash against him, even by those on the left, after things like the roger and me controversy (which he denies) and some of the facts in bowling for columbine and fahrenheit 9/11 being refuted or shown as being misleading. personally i don’t know that i buy the roger and me criticism, and i don’t give too much weight to the bfc and f9/11 stuff, but i do fault him on a personal level for abadoning ralph nader. so, yes, even i have a bone to pick with the guy these days. moore is still seen in the film, but his ideas and his persona are less the focus of sicko than they have been in his other films. given the public’s opinion of moore, this is probably a good thing for the film.
tonally the film is less comedic than his previous films have been. sure, it has some comedic elements, but it seems that moore has lost a bit of his sense of humor in the years between sicko and fahrenheit 9/11. this was reinforced by his performance on the letterman show i saw recently when he was pitching the movie. he just seems more sullen and beaten. then again, i guess we all are after 6+ years of bush junior. the film still brings the same pathos that all his work as had. he does it with anecdotal evidence, but i think that the anecdotes, in this case, confirm a suspicion we all hold and confirm other anecdotes we’ve heard about insurance companies and the healthcare system. i think everyone knows someone who has been screwed by the healthcare system in the same way (preexisting condition, no prior approval of procedure, etc.) that the people in the film were.
overall i think the film does a good job of sparking the debate and offering some perspective and solutions for our healthcare problems. it’s a safer film in some respects, than his previous two, but moore still has it in him…Watched in theater