Even if Michael Moore’s new film didn’t win a prize at Cannes this year (it was not shown in competition), the screening caused quite a stir

Emma Baus
Emma Baus is a documentary filmmaker living in Paris, France, working as a wildlife documentary director.

Sicko

Michael Moore

USA 2007, 113 min.

Screening was held at 8.30 a.m. in the gigantic Lumiere theatre and five minutes after it started, people applauded a scene – a reaction that was repeated several times throughout! This attitude was undoubtedly generated by the US segment of the audience, aware of the situation of the medical system in their own country and supporting the battle to change it through this cinematographic “pamphlet”. As a European, I was mostly frightened by what I saw.

Fifty million Americans don’t have any health insurance because they can’t pay for it. But worst of all, if possible, is the fact that even if you pay your premiums for years, you still risk being denied any financial support if you become ill, because the insurance company employs a host of legal specialists who screen the details of your policy to find a way of breaking the contract for all kinds of reasons. Moore interviews a variety of people suffering from cancer, car-accident trauma, respiratory problems, etc. It’s hard not to imagine what would happen if our families were born Americans. As member of the middle class, we would certainly be in the same situation as most of the people in the movie, incapable of paying for our own treatment and obliged to sell our houses to get the medication – and what happens when you run out of things to sell? Board a boat and try to reach a country that cares more for its sick? That is exactly what Michael Moore does with a group of ill people. And where does he head? Guess! Somewhere near America… Cuba! This scene is quite desperate and hilarious at the same time – a real tip-off to the documentarist’s unique style.

sicko070702_560Formally speaking, the film differs little from his previous ones. Something new is that during the first half of the documentary we don’t see the director on screen. But the voiceover is still his with his unique sarcastic tone. After having described the US health system, Moore comes back in front of the camera when he starts travelling around the world to see if he can find a better system. We see him in Canada gathering with family, in the United Kingdom meeting a doctor who works in a public hospital and enjoying the special French way of living based on great wine and great food…Yes, it’s nice to live on a continent with a good health system and it’s nice to know it. But Michael Moore’s eyes are a bit naïve, for a good purpose though: to make the US system evolve!

 


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