“If we can find money to kill people, we can find money to help people.” — Tony Benn, “SICKO”
Say what you want about Michael Moore and his views of America, but let me tell you right now that I love the guy as a documentarian. He knows how to get through people’s minds, and the man really did got through mine. After watching Sicko, three things went through my mind: 1. How can one of the poorest countries have a great healthcare system, but we, the richest, have a poor one?, 2. How come in other countries, people can help each other, but whenever we ask for help, we are either turned down, or just fucked over?, and 3. What the hell is our excuse for these questions?
Moore first got the idea for Sicko during an interview in his Bowling For Columbine doc, where he was told that Canadians don’t have to pay for their healthcare. He realized that this has become an issue in the world and that everyone who tried to make note of it failed. There is a good 50 million people in the United States who don’t have healthcare because they cannot afford it. Moore makes a note on his blog asking people to send in messages about their healthcare providers and the problems that they have been having. Within a week, he received over 25,000 messages from customers of health insurance companies.
Some of the stories that Moore shows us are just hard not to shed a tear to. A man named Rick was doing some work at his house, and got the top of his middle and ring fingers cut off of one hand. Since he didn’t have insurance, Rick had to decide what to pay for — his middle finger to be re-attached for $60,000, or his ring finger to be re-attached for $12,000. In another story, homeless patients that were ill check into hospitals, and after being treated, they are dumped on the side of the road, literally, with their IVs in their arms and in their hospital gowns. Another story tells the tale of a wife and a husband, living perfect lives with health insurance. But once he had three heart attacks and she got cancer, they were forced to live with their daughter in a storage closet.
Moore takes us on a journey to other countries. He takes us to Canada with an interviewee and her baby. She lives in the United States and can’t afford her health insurance, so she asks a friend who lives in Canada to “get married” so she can have Canadian healthcare. All she does is travel over the border to get into Canada, and just goes to the nearest doctor. Then they get in trouble for videotaping everything. It’s quite funny, but they don’t get caught. He also takes us to the United Kingdom and France, which have great and free healthcare.
And I’m sure that you heard all of this before, but the last thirty minutes of the documentary has to be the most inspiring thirty minutes that Michael Moore has ever done in his career. While on the other side of the world, Moore hears that the suspected terrorists against the United States being detained at Guantanamo Bay get free healthcare. He decides, if the bad people can get free healthcare, why shouldn’t the good people? So, he brings in people to get medical treatment onto a boat traveling to Guantanamo Bay, including three heroes from 9/11 who can’t afford healthcare and are having breathing or back problems. When denied entrance, Moore brings them to Havana, Cuba, where they are treated by doctors for free and get very cheap medicine.
I’m a big fan of Moore’s Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, and this may be my favorite of his. I remember seeing Bowling For Columbine, and when buying it, I actually thought, you know, it was an actual movie about bowling. But I was wrong, and I got a lot more from it than what I thought I would get. Same with Fahrenheit 9/11. All the controversy and delays surrounded by that film made me worried, but I got what I wanted. Both were great documentaries, and Moore became a hero of mine… HEY MOORE, YOU DO HAVE A FAN! WAY TO GO BUDDY!
But Sicko may be Moore’s most impactful movie. You will ask yourself the same questions I asked myself over and over, and possibly more questions. This could happen to anyone: your loved ones, you, or me. What Moore shows us is completely true, either from his eyes, victims’ eyes, or your eyes, and he wants to make you see what people are going through, and how well everyone else has it. This Moore film is different than his other films. He doesn’t have the sarcastic humor that he would usually use during his other documentaries. Instead, Moore acts serious, and doesn’t act sarcastic.
This may be the most important documentary since An Inconvenient Truth, and prior that one, I couldn’t remember since. Hopefully the Academy will recognize Moore and his efforts come January of 2008, since I can already feel this would be a lock.
**** out of ****