Overboard, sensational, witty, funny and not-so-objective Sicko is a Michael Moore classic. It is also a lesson in how to take a not-so-controversial issue (providing health care to all) and turn it into a provocative subject (by suggesting that Cuba, France and Canada’s universal coverage works wonders).
But there is something inherently good about Sicko’s provocative approach: it prompts debate about universal health care in the context of a government’s duty to its citizens. Moore questions the humanity of denying care to patients on financial grounds, i.e., your insurance plan. Private insurance companies are in the health-care business to make a profit and can only do so at the expense of the sick, Moore contends. Then, he embarks on a tour of Canada, the UK, France and Cuba to debunk theories that government-based, free care is detrimental to the well-being of society and health professionals.
Along the way, Sicko visits families and individuals whose lives were deeply affected – emotionally, physically and financially – because of the for-profit system in the U.S. Moore asks why America, the world’s wealthiest country, is incapable of providing a service that a range of other countries – from similarly minded Western allies to Caribbean foe Cuba – regard as a birth right.
Moore blissfully ignores certain aspects about other countries’ national plans for a more favorable view of their virtues to amplify his message. Inevitably, this leaves Sicko vulnerable to attacks from the director’s opponents and risks reducing an otherwise meaningful movie to preaching to the choir (e.g., Botched Operation, Crazy Moore Offers Wrong Prescription, says the New York Post).
But whether you like him or not, Moore definitely shines a light on an issue that needs and deserves public and political attention in the U.S. – dare I say, a la Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. No wonder Moore was at Capitol Hill flanked by more than 10 Democrats Wednesday, all screaming and kicking for universal health care. (Yes, I wrote about it here.)
As per usual, A.O. Scott of the New York Times nails it in his review. So, I’ll stop my gibberish now. Before I depart: I expected the Post’s criticism to stick, but after seeing Sicko I came to think that one has to be heartless and inhuman not to be moved by – or at least think about – the issues Moore raises.
Sicko opens in the U.S. Friday, June 29. See it for yourself and let me know what you think – don’t worry, it’ll be worth your 10 bucks, you’ll get a laugh out of it as well as some food for thought.