Saturday, July 07, 2007

SiCKO Review

There are two groups of people in the documentary world, those who like Michael Moore's films, and those who don't. The arguments between these two groups can often get very heated and amusing due to the sensitive and controversial material that Moore films about, but no matter which side of the fence you sit on, you can't help but admit that his films certainly get noticed.

Moore's latest offering is SiCKO, a documentary that mainly examines the American health care system. When all is said and done, despite the fact that Moore, like many trying to make a political point, skews things in his favour, I'm glad I live in Canada instead of the US.

The film encompasses the usual style that we've come to expect from Moore: A look at a serious and controversial issue filled with satirical humour, Bush bashing, and reflections upon 9/11.

The film starts off looking at the need for medical insurance in the US, and the statistic of Americans who simply can not afford it and must attend to self care. It also goes on to show how the use of medical insurance can hurt a family financially, and the greedy methods the insurance companies will use to get their cash back. Time is spent in detail going over attempts to bring about standard, government controlled health care and the subsequent failure of it due to the American paranoia that such a thing is communism.

Moore surgically dissects the privatizing of American health care, and the treatment that medical professionals and institutions will provide to clients who are not covered; who can not pay. He traces back the issue to its beginning, where he believes the problem of privatization started, and further goes to show just how strongly the greed of politicians and insurance companies has become.

To further illustrate his point, Moore compares the American health care system to much of the rest of the western world, also bringing sick leave, maternity leave, and government assistance into the fold. He compares the US to Canada, Britain, France, and even the socialist paradise known as Cuba.

The comparison to Cuba, of course, is the most entertaining of the bunch (and the most controversial). Since America believes that Cuba is the enemy and the source of all things evil, he takes a boat filled with 9/11 volunteer rescue workers who developed medical issues as a direct result of working at ground zero, volunteers who are being shafted by the American health care system, to Cuba for medical aid.

The excellent, affordable, and humane treatment these people received in a land that's supposed to be their bitter enemies brought many of them to tears. They received high quality tests and treatments, as well as medicine, right there in Cuba. The quality and appearance of the doctors and hospitals there will leave a lot of viewers skeptical, since they simply look too good to be true, and that very well may be true, but since I've never been to Cuba, I can't rightly say.

Being a Canadian who has only received medical care within Canada, I can only fairly comment on Canada's own health care system, comparing it to how Moore projects it in SiCKO. Moore discusses and elaborates on all the pros of our health care, and even shows how one American is frauding our poor system to provide her children with good medical care, however he doesn't properly go into the main issues of wait times for important surgery, shortage of medical staff, etc. He touches on them, but very quickly rights them off. Moore is painting a picture perfect system to highlight the points of his film, but despite this, however, if even half of what Moore states is true about the American system, I'm certainly glad I receive my care north of the border.

Plain and simple, if you liked Michael Moore's previous works, you will enjoy SiCKO, and if you hate Moore, then you'll be disgusted by this film. Even though I don't always agree with everything he says, I do enjoy Moore's documentaries, and I certainly enjoyed SiCKO. I love Moore's satire and his style, and in the end, SiCKO really only goes to show us what we already knew: that money is all the US truly cares about. Just remember to travel with insurance yourself.

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