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July 5, 2007

Filed under: movies»reviews»documentary

Sicko

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a Michael Moore movie?

Sicko (I will not bow to anyone's ridiculous capitalization schemes) has less Moore, pardon the pun, than previous documentaries, but probably provokes more thought. It is, as the director himself states in the film and several pundits have noticed, as much a movie about who we as Americans want to be as it is about health care. Do we want to be a nation that forces people to choose which finger they can afford to have reattached? Should we be a country that quibbles over health care for 9/11 volunteers, now suffering from pulmonary problems due to the hazardous dust?

It's easy to see this movie from my perspective and say no, we shouldn't be that kind of country. And I think it's remarkably persuasive at making that point, both in showing the advantages of other health care systems and by noting the other areas where America has implemented "socialized" government (education, transit, libraries, etc.)

It's persuasive to me, but I'm practically a socialist already. I don't know how it plays to the kind of people that think the government should be devoted only to invading countries and funding churches. I have a feeling that a lot of people will not be able to see beyond the idea of corporations and economies as the root level of the American system. Many people tend to forget that those corporations and economies are in fact composed of people just like us--or they choose to believe that the people are less important than the economic machines they constitute.

As for Sicko, if there's one weak point, it's probably Moore's trip to Cuba. He's not a subtle man, but you can see admirable restraint in the rest of the film: in fact, he often frames himself as the ridiculous American, unable to believe that the English, French, and Canadian systems provide such caring service. Moore's awkward bulk becomes a kind of sight gag, as well as a symbol of American prejudices on the issue. Sadly, he abandons that light touch for his jabs at Guantanamo, and the last third of the film suffers a little for it--not enough to falter completely, but enough that you wish he'd just get on with it.

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