Friday 26 October 2007
One turns to a new Michael Moore film with a heavy heart – can someone so fat and self-regarding really afford to be that smug? – and a weather eye for the usual simplifications and stunts that mar his crusading polemics. But Sicko marks a welcome change: for at least 40 minutes, there's not a shot of the big lump to be seen.
It's actually a devastating exposure of America's iniquitous healthcare system, coolly marshalled and amusingly detailed by Moore. His main argument is that the government and the medical-insurance companies have between them sold Americans short by putting profit before health. He nails corruption and negligence with case studies ranging from a man who was told his severed middle finger could be replaced – for $60,000 – to the appalling story, captured on CCTV, of a dazed woman patient dumped outside an Los Angeles hospital to fend for herself.
He also reveals how US governments have tried to cast "socialised medicine" as a kind of demonic communist plot, and visits Canada, France and the UK to prove the point that public healthcare can function just fine. He visits an NHS hospital in London and finds solicitude, efficiency and a well-paid, contented doctor. Who knew we should feel proud?
The last quarter of the film gets bogged down in silliness as Moore takes a party of ailing, ill-treated 9/11 rescue workers first to Guantanamo Bay, where al-Qa'ida suspects allegedly receive free medical care, and thence to Cuba, where a hospital offers them treatment that they can't afford in the US. It ends in a group hug between the tearful Americans and a Cuban fire brigade.
That's the regrettable side of Moore: he just can't resist grandstanding. This is a better, more thoughtful effort than Fahrenheit 9/11, though, and ought to make The Land of the Free just a little ashamed.
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
Top Gear makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells Independent Bath Literature Festival
Ruin Lust at Tate Britain, art review
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jenny Collier row: Comedy promoter apologises after dropping female comic 'because venue did not want too many women on the bill'
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 5 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him