Monday, July 23, 2007

'Sicko' asks if America needs some health care

My freelance review:
Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, packs a lot of punch.

And it bloodies the noses of a lot of people along the way, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, a number of congressmen and senators (including Hillary Clinton) and executives in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

This is a tough film to review. It's hard to separate the message from the film and the film from its message.

Technically speaking, the film is incredible. At a full two hours, it never bores. It moves along and tells it story, very episodically, and makes its points. And it gets quite emotional, too. It returns to certain core characters over and over again, primarily 9/11 volunteer rescue workers suffering from some horrible health problems and dying from them -- without the aid of medical care, due to a lack of insurance.

In typical Moore fashion, the film offers plenty of humor peppered throughout, but never in a distasteful way to those in the spotlight.

That is, unless you consider the millionaire CEOs of the health insurance companies in the spotlight. That's right, those CEOs who are raking in millions and millions of dollars each year and denying millions and millions of Americans access to the health care that would save their lives.

So, in that regard, Moore's humor is distasteful.

From my perspective, though, the humor is warranted. And this is where I start to have a tough time reviewing this film. I want to take the messages of the film and expound on them. I want to vigorously support the theories presented in the film that those in power have lost touch with what it really means to be human. That it's all about "me" and never about "we" anymore. That, just perhaps, the fabric of America is seriously unraveling. That those of power in our American civilization are abusing their power, and that other humans are suffering and dying as a result.

As I type these words, I'm filled with passion. Passion to say something. Passion to understand. Passion to imagine a country whose leaders' actions demonstrate concern for the "we."

I remind myself to come back to the movie. Is the movie factually correct at all times? I've read plenty of accounts to suggest not. But I'm also wise enough to know that the truth hardly ever lies at either extreme, but rather in varying shades of gray.

Do any such inaccuracies invalidate the messages in the movie? I don't think so. My take is that even if Moore is only 75% correct, America has a serious problem.

And because of that, I argue that this is not only a very good movie, but a very important one.

Oh, and one of those millions of Americans without health insurance happens to be a relative of mine, someone very dear. I worry for her, sincerely.

And if only there was a decent balance of sincerity between "me" and "we" among those in power.

A person can dream.

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