Sunday, 19 August 2007

In Sicko, Michael Moore points the accusatory finger at Republican presidents Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush when looking for someone to blame for the crisis in health care.

Rapid and assured, Moore's cutting and script rollick along. It starts with setting up a Web site soliciting input from citizens. Their stories follow. In true journalistic style, that is with a 'hard' news methodology, Moore visits London and France to get the other side of the story.

It's incredible how simple the plot and script are. The closest thing I can think of is Looney Tunes cartoons I watched as a kid. It's also incredible that 68 per cent of American kids do not know where England is. Let alone that some countries, in this case England (he calls it Great Britain for some bizarre reason of his own, probably not knowing the difference between, say, England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom) and France, supply free health care.

I pity the poor American person who cannot access health care due to cost. Moore's stories of woe are simply pathetic. No wonder the country's presidents thump the drum so often, banging on in a nationalist strain. It's the only way to keep people on side.

Canada also gets a mention.

To treat Moore in the same way he treats his targets, there are clearly some issues in terms of selecting subjects to cover. The French people he talks with are very obviously of the middle class, whereas his American subjects all seem to be rather lower on the economic scale.

I walked out before he got to Cuba, since I'd read about that in the paper. One problem with a documentary like this is that the tone is unvarying. As a result, small elegances used to segue from one segment to the next are frankly irritating. If we know for sure there will be more of the same, we are not enticed to stay.

On the positive side, it's valuable to watch a master polemicist at work. But if there were more nuance and real analysis as to why America is like it is, I would be happier.

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