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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Michael Moore.
Directors
Michael Moore.
Screenwriters
Running Time
123 minutes

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Sicko
Moore's back, and this time it's medical


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Plot
In a quest to sink the reptilian profiteering of America’s healthcare industry, documentarian/polemicist (delete as appropriate) Michael Moore tracks down victims of the system, then sets off on a globe-trotting tour of the world’s best health services?


Review
Sicko
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Up with the porcelain umbrellas: Michael Moore’s brewed another thundering shit-storm. After bagging a Palme d’Or for the Bush-whacking Fahrenheit 9/11, America’s agitator-in-chief must have looked at his beleagured nation and thought, “Who’s next?” He didn’t look far: Sicko’s opening shot shows George Bush. But does Moore have the energy for another personal vendetta? And more to the point, do we?

But then something really shocking happens: Bush evaporates, while Moore himself doesn’t appear until 40 minutes in. Finally he’s stumbled on a humanitarian story even bigger than his ego. Sicko might appear to serve up scalpel-sharp agitprop on the failures of a brutal, discriminatory US health service, but Moore has actually created a truly universal movie - and, in the process, relocated his pulse.

One reason for this is that it’s a different world for Moore since Fahrenheit. Earlier this year, Canadian filmmakers Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk unleashed Manufacturing Dissent, an exposé questioning Moore’s cavalier fact-gathering. Is it a surprise to learn that Moore did actually secure a lengthy interview with fat-cat General Motors CEO Roger Smith, but chose to cut the footage from Roger & Me because it didn’t follow his agenda? Moore’s detractors certainly seem to think so, and the neo-cons haven’t wasted the chance to mock his latest release. So why trust a single word?
Yes, Sicko does display a flippant, if not arrogant, disregard for its stats and sources, and, as expected, doesn’t bother with anything even remotely approaching a counter-argument. But getting in a froth over what Moore loosely selects as The Truth is to totally misunderstand the man’s art. Whatever the Senate says, Moore’s business isn’t politics, it’s polemics, where bending the facts to your advantage isn’t a sin; it’s a contractual requirement.

Moore’s central argument is that the pharmaceutical giants, politicians and insurance behemoths conspire to put profit over care, with life-threatening results. The case studies, skilfully assembled from 500 hours of footage, beggar belief. One man
is charged $60,000 to replace a severed finger tip. A car-crash victim is billed for an ambulance trip as if it’s some sort of luxury urban cruise. And, most horrifying of all, an LA hospital dumps its patients on the streets - dazed and shivering in smocks, still ill - with the CCTV footage to prove it.

This might sound like gruelling viewing, but Moore knows it’s easier to ram uncomfortable truths down our mouths when they’re wide-open laughing - be it from the director’s deadpan voiceovers, sarcastic use of archive footage or ballsy stunts, such as sending medically neglected 9/11 rescuers to Guantanamo Bay (where, he argues, al-Qaeda detainees receive the only free healthcare in America).

Perhaps inevitably, Moore’s weakness for sentiment over-sweetens the pill. But this remains impassioned cinema, a warning of the corrupting power of corporations and their assault on democratic values. And, for British audiences especially, it’s a vital reminder that our so-called shonky NHS (albeit presented here in idealised form) is a human right, not a favour. Crusading stuff, bluntly and brilliantly argued.


Verdict
Horrifying, heart-breaking, often hilarious - Moore’s latest shock doc is a potent polemic.


Reviewed by Simon Crook

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sicko
Empire Star Rating

An Affecting, If Flawed, Documentary

There's a notion that Michael Moore is nothing 'moore' than a filmmaker, rather than a documentary maker. Indeed, the way he 'produces' his own docs could very well mean he doctors them so as to get the desired spin on them. Whether this may be true or not is irrelevant, because Sicko is his most accessible work to date, choosing to focus on healthcare in America. Whilst he painted a somewhat uneven picture of the NHS in England (Conveniently missing out the waiting times), the documentary, for ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 14:10, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


Moore movie shocker reveals that Corporations just care about money

Of course they do! - you respond, it's no surprise or secret. And so for a movie that basically serves as another reminder about how poor life is for many in the US, it's surprising uplifting. Moore keeps the movie focused on one thing and, I felt, doesn't try to rely on many numbers/facts that people could contest as twisted. It simply shows - and relies on- the 'victims' first hand account. Some of the stories are absolutely shocking. God Bless the NHS! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:31, 29 August 2009 | Report This Post


Great stuff

Makes you temporarily proud to be on the NHS. Just don't move to America anytime soon. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 15:35, 28 December 2008 | Report This Post


Mixed but essential

It could have done without some of the Moore-isms (deadpan voice over, attention-grabbing stunts, etc.) because the most compelling portions of this film involve the simple, heartbreaking, irrefutable anecdotes that characterize the United States' barbarian health care system (I should know - I live here!) through interviews with patients and insurance workers alike (curiously, I don't remember too much input from doctors.) I feel it strays off course when it goes overseas to "document"... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by helios at 04:37, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Another Great Job

Fair enough Micheal Moore skews things to promote his views but what exactly are his views? Guns are bad? (he's right) The US government went to war based on lies? (he was right) The US healthcare system is a sick joke? (of course he's right). There is a fundamental underlying truth to all his movies that cannot be denied and Sicko is another superb effort by someone who is doing the utterly impotent US media's job for them. He might have painted the NHS as a picture of... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 16:59, 11 December 2007 | Report This Post


A shocking and conversely funny documentary that will satisfy most Moore fans. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tombetom at 01:27, 11 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: sicko

I really can't understand people who critisize Moore for presenting only one side of the argument - of course, that's his job. He said in an interview that the corporations in US spend millions of dollars each year on PR campaigns and they certainly aren't presenting both sides of the argument. Why should he?  ... More

Posted by bozo at 17:53, 06 November 2007 | Report This Post


sicko

You have to hand it to him for bringing certain things to light and even though he raises more questions than answers, he must be applauded for asking them in the first place. He can be sensationalist and cheesy, however, and sometimes it's hard to spot the difference between his ego and the issue; Sicko, a damning indictment on America's health care system, whistles the same tune. With his childlike narration and simplistic stating of the facts, Moore takes his camera across America to intervie... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 18:48, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post


Great

its a great film by Michael Moore and like all his films it is one sided. Whats wrong with that??? He has an argument to make and he made it very convinceingly. The american people in the film are real, the insurance companies are real so therefore the situation is real. There is nobody else making films about corruption and greed that you can go watch at mainstream cinemas, Michael Moore is a necessity to film even if you hate him. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bradburyd at 14:10, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post


RE: mmmmm

I enjoyed Sicko, though I didn't find it as compelling as Farenheit 9/11. I think if I was an American watching it I would be far more appalled as the revelations about our health system and those in other countries aren't revelations to me, they are things I know and take for granted. Like Moore's other films he doesn't ever hide the fact that he only really wants to show one side of the argument, so those looking for a balanced debate should look elsewhere. Moore remains however a skil... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 17:35, 29 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: mmmmm

L: Silvertouch rying to provoke the situation to create the maximum impact for the viewers and is manipulating the situations he depicts to make his viewers see the situation from a different angle, namely his angle. ain Twitcher But don't you see how what you've said there is completely right. Your argument is that he is using complete, genuine facts, your evidence that he is putting a completely false slant on things. I'm confused. To be quite honest, I don't see how Michae... More

Posted by curtain twitcher at 13:32, 28 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: mmmmm

rying to provoke the situation to create the maximum impact for the viewers and is manipulating the situations he depicts to make his viewers see the situation from a different angle, namely his angle. ain Twitcher   But don't you see how what you've said there is completely right. Your argument is that he is using complete, genuine facts, your evidence that he is putting a completely false slant on things. I'm confused.   To be quite honest, I don't see how Michael Moore coul... More

Posted by Silvertouch at 09:58, 28 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: mmmmm

L: Flaygor After watching Sicko many months ago (why the UK delay)? I found myself losing respect for Moore. Mainly because the film is his most blatant case of only representing one side of the story. stly works better as a ER- esque drama than it does as any kind of documentary on US medical policy or indeed health care globally in general. Entertaining, yes, ts, probably not.ght Mr Moore you have vanished somewhere up your own bottom. ally, i think they very likely are the genuine fa... More

Posted by curtain twitcher at 20:24, 27 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Quite simply Michael Moores finest film to date.

It was ok. The subject matter whilst interesting, wasn't as compelling as Farenheit 9/11 or Bowling For Columbine. But he did a great job of making the American health system look terrible and making everyone else's look amazing. his objective and it works and it certainly makes for interesting viewing. The usual stunt at the end was expected and gets tiring after seeing his other documentaries but it served its purpose. 6/10 ... More

Posted by Rinc at 12:33, 27 October 2007 | Report This Post


Quite simply Michael Moores finest film to date.

I am a big fan of the work of Michael Moore..and this film did not fail to impress. Great stuff from a great film maker!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SMP33 at 10:27, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


mmmmm

After watcing Sicko many months ago (why the UK delay?) i feel I found myself losing respect for Moore. Mainly because the film is his most blatant case of only reperesenting one side of the story. It honestly works better as a ER esque drama than it does as any kind of documentary on US medical policy or indeed health care globaly in general. Entertaining, yes, the facts, probably not. Goodnight Mr Moore you have vanished somewhere up your own bottom. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Flaygor at 00:55, 23 October 2007 | Report This Post


RE:

ways enjoy his films so ill go see it ... More

Posted by Topher182 at 13:50, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


Shocking indeed. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by samm0r at 11:34, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


"Whatever the Senate says, Moore’s business isn’t politics, it’s polemics, where bending the facts to your advantage isn’t a sin; it’s a contractual requirement." Ha! That's an interesting rationalization. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr. Benway at 01:53, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


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