I watched Sicko the other night with my wife and two “lefty” friends. Now, I am a mashup of political beliefs, with libertarian views being the most dominant (I may dive deeper into this subject later). And I had yet to watch a Michael Moore film from start to finish. Enough. On with the review:
The subject of healthcare in our country is nothing new, and the material in the film will not be surprising to those who even casually follow the issue. However, the film still works for this audience because, regardless of your favored solutions, it certainly highlights a system of laws, regulations and business practices that are simply not working. Its primary effectiveness is as a tool for evoking discussion on the issue–whether you favor less regulations (state & federal), tax-favorableness of employer-provided plans, cost-cutting measures, etc. or a simple single-payer system or something else.
Except for a few dubious, but minor, assertions (the hatred of Fidel Castro being ingrained in our heads via Big Brother, for one), the viewer will not focus on Michael Moore, but instead on the subject matter of the film. And while the segment of Americans living in France extolling the utopia of that country’s social economy is a little over-the-top, the underlying premise of this portion–that a society can have an extensive social safety net without burdening its well-to-do citizens–is not lost on the viewer. (However, even the French–as witnessed in their recent elections–understand some curtailing of their labor laws is necessary.)
The film’s runtime of almost 2 hours does drag a bit in the second half. The fact that this film is released in a non-election year may help it avoid some criticism of simply being a political tool.
Sicko opens this Friday in theaters.