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Sicko
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Sicko – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Having turned his attention to America’s gun laws and the war against terrorism, Michael Moore’s next target is the US healthcare system – or more accurately, the health insurance system.
Interviewing Americans who’ve failed to get the medical treatment they need because they don’t have enough insurance, the film-maker-cum-polemicist travels the world to show Americans how they could do it better – singing the praises of health systems in Canada, France and our good ole NHS.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

In his typical manner, Moore uses a combination of irony, faux naivety and genuine incredulity to show the world how desperate the situation can be for Americans in need of medical attention – and how in many cases, money is more important to the healthcare providers than medical need.
He introduces us to people who’ve been failed by the system – many of whom nip across the border to take advantage of the care provided by their Canadian neighbours.
Some of his evidence is so compelling that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. If he’d left it at “look how bad the American healthcare system is” he could’ve been on to a winner, but as he tries to expand the film to see how much better it is elsewhere, he starts to lose the plot.
While his adventures in Europe are unquestionably entertaining – highlighting, for example, that new mothers don’t have to pay for their stay in hospital before leaving an NHS hospital – this is where the film starts to lose its credulity, suggesting, as it does, that the NHS is the epitome of perfection when it comes to health service provision. There are no waiting lists, the doctors are friendly (even though they drive posh cars and live in big houses), the service is not only free but patients are GIVEN money to cover their travel expenses if they’re on benefits. No suggestion that you might have to wait months for treatment or that you might catch a superbug during your recuperation, for example.
In this way, he demeans his own argument, doing a disservice to his journalism and turns yet another good and worthy point into entertaining but worthless polemic.
This point is only emphasised when he finds the one place under US jurisdiction where a perfect health service IS provided and tries to obtain care there for the American cases he introduced us too earlier – but funnily enough, the authorities at Guantanamo Bay won’t let them in.

opens 26th October 2007

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