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DVD Review




Starring: Michael Moore
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 12
Available 07 January 2008

Michael Moore takes a closer look at the US health care system, from the vantage point of everyday people who are faced with extraordinary and heartbreaking challenges in their quest for basic medical care. Moore shows that US health care is ranked one of the lowest among developed nations, despite costing more per person than any other health system in the world...

Sicko is Michael Moore's latest documentary in which he tackles the US's ludicrously expensive health care system, a system that sees insurance companies routinely trying to get out of coughing up when those that are covered try to make a claim.

While I am a huge fan of Moore's work, I am quite aware that he has his own political agenda. It's blatantly obvious that he's a strong supporter of the Democrats. And whenever possible he likes to get the voice of the Democrats down as the voice of reason, while the Republicans are always made to look like evil monsters who worship money and are cerebrally challenged - although George W Bush is a gift on a plate really isn't he?

Interviewing some of the thousands of individuals he claims contacting him with their horror stories about how the American health care system has failed them, Moore presents each story and then questions why no one seems to care or question the way things are. He also interviews ex-employees of the larger insurance companies, who all confirm that their main jobs were to stop claimants receiving help when their health failed them. This should be no surprise though of a system that is run for profit and is made up of companies that have shareholders to pay - of course they're going to try to hold on to as much of the money as possible.

Moore travels to Canada, the UK, France and Cuba in a bid to see how and why other nation's health care systems work when the US model so obviously doesn't. The next time you complain about the price of UK prescriptions, you might like to consider the tearful American woman who was shocked to discover that the $120 that she is used to paying for her inhaler refill only cost 5 cent in Cuba.

Moore is at his best while taking three boats full of patients - some of whom are 9/11 heroes who have been let down by the systems - to Guantanamo Bay, because he's discovered that all the "evil doers" that are held there get the best health care for free.

Those that complain about the UK's National Health Service may suddenly realise that we are not as hard done by as we thought. Sure, we might moan we have to wait a while for an appointment, or surgery, but do we really want the US equivalent? And we may not have a choice soon. With the UK government's insistent on pushing through Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) in every sector (schools and health trusts may soon be largely funded through PFI deals) it's only a matter of time before UK patients will realise that the old National Health system was a blessing. You just can't run health schemes on a 'for profit' basis. PFI's, it could be argued, are just a backdoor form of privatisation. Sure it delivers an influx of cash in the short term, but at what future cost? When, in the not too distant future, the healthcare system in the UK is run to make money, we may indeed wish we'd done something about it.

As I mentioned before, Moore is quite adept at manipulating his audience. He tells half-truths and twists events slightly to give more impact to his claims. Nowhere is this more evident than in the section where Moore claims that he sent an anonymous donation to Jim Kenefick, who runs an anti Michael Moore website ( Why did Moore do this? Well, he claims it was because Kenefick was in danger of having to close the site down due to mounting medical bills to pay for the care of his ill wife. However, looking over Kenefick's site, and his reaction to Moore's anonymous donation, it's pretty obvious why Moore coughed up the money. I mean, you don't do something out of the goodness of your heart and then include that in a movie if you really want to stay anonymous do you?

Extras include a number of additional interviews, deleted scenes and a music video. Some of these extras themselves make for great mini-documentaries. The two best featurettes include a look at Norway - which has probably the world's best healthcare system and an extended interview with Tony Benn. I also found the Raising Money to Fight Cancer featurette to be a little uncomfortable. I mean, how can a health care system treat someone so badly.

At the end of the day, in spite of the fact that Moore continues to bend the facts to fit his agenda, this is a wonderful piece of entertainment that illustrates why the American system is failing so many people on a daily basis. For that alone Moore should be applauded.


Darren Rea

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