Directed by: Michael Moore
Premise: A documentary about the health care industry, comparing the private system in the United States to the public systems available in Europe and Canada and compiling the horror stories of people who have suffered from the U.S. system.
What Works: Sicko is another great documentary from Moore, a director whose filmography is filled with examples of presenting expository information in an entertaining and dramatically satisfying way. This film is structured and focused more like Bowling for Columbine than Fahrenheit 9/11 or Roger and Me in that Sicko is focused on the broader picture, making Americans not only look at the inner workings of an industry, but using that industry to make Americans look at themselves as a people. Still, Sicko is a bit different from some other films by Moore, as it is tempered by more compassion and less zealotry and directs the audience toward a specific goal, stating it outright in the film. The picture is expertly edited, juxtaposing talking points through exposition and narration and then illustrating them with personal testimonials, and allowing the arguments to unfold, leading the audience toward Moore’s desired end.
What Doesn’t: Although the film is funny in appropriate moments, the film is missing some of the characteristic Moore shenanigans that made him famous. This film does not have a big buzz moment, like Charlton Heston’s interview in Bowling for Columbine or the footage of President Bush sitting in a classroom in Fahrenheit 9/11. The techniques in this film are more nuanced, and those looking for Moore the practical joker may be a bit let down by the more somber approach in Sicko.
Bottom Line: Sicko is one of Michael Moore’s best works, on par with Bowling for Columbine. The picture takes a step back from the choir preaching in his other work and reaches out toward those who may have found him too partisan in the past. Sicko is another knockout film for Moore and the documentary genre.
Episode: #147 (July 8, 2007)