Moore drops that increasingly annoying confrontational "gotcha" gimmick* and the result is his most effective film to date. His trademark cornball folksy exasperation works well as he tells the stories of a few people without health insurance before getting quickly to the true subject of Sicko: people with full coverage whose insurance companies fucked them. Sometimes to death.
Sicko is a grim catalogue of pointless suffering and waste. Many in the crowded theater were reduced to loud and continual blubbering. On July 4th at The Charles the outrage and disgust were palpable. I hope everyone who sees Sicko carries that outrage into action. It will take hard work and activism for the US to end the barbaric negligence of its citizens' health by rich amoral corporations and sycophantic politicians. Just as the criminal actions of HMOs and insurers become unbearable in the film, Moore pauses to ask "What is wrong with us?" It's a powerful moment.
Sicko isn't perfect. Moore meanders a bit too much, lingering in France and Cuba for too long, getting a bit off topic in the former and a bit maudlin in the latter. I'm a huge fan of French Republican idealism but Moore ignores the heavy cost of its nanny state in his glowing portrait.**It's also likely that the Cuba sequences were stage-managed to some degree by government officials eager for good PR. But considering the cloud of insurance company obfuscation Americans have breathed for years, Moore's approach is hardly unwarranted. At a time when the Democratic Party has removed universal health care from its platform the debate Sicko hopefully inspires is badly needed. See it before you pay your next premium.
*With one glaring exception, which I shan't spoil.
**At least the French make providing health care to everyone a priority; financing it is a secondary consideration, and the idea of prioritizing profits over health is regarded as obscene.
[Image courtesy VCReporter]