You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


Three years after winning Cannes' top prize, Michael Moore returns to the Croisette with more polemics-as-performance-art in "Sicko," an affecting and entertaining dissection of the American health care industry.

Three years after winning Cannes’ top prize for “Fahrenheit 9/11,” docu helmer and agent provocateur Michael Moore returns to the Croisette with more polemics-as-performance-art in “Sicko,” an affecting and entertaining dissection of the American health care industry, showing how it benefits the few at the expense of the many. Pic’s tone alternates between comedy, poignancy and outrage as it compares the U.S system of care to other countries. Given Moore’s celebrity and fan base, plus heightened awareness of the pic resulting from the heated battle that’s already begun between left and right, returns look to be extremely healthy.

Pic should also play well internationally, providing an eye-opening lesson for foreigners who may be inclined (like Moore’s Canadian cousins) to take out insurance from their homeland before visiting the States.

Chief criticism of the film is that it paints too rosy a picture of the national health care of the countries he compares America to, including Canada, England, France — and Cuba.

Employing his trademark personal narration and David vs. Goliath approach, Moore enlivens what is, in essence, a depressing subject by wrapping it in irony and injecting levity wherever possible: a graph shows America’s position in global health care as No. 38 — just above Slovenia — and is followed by film footage of primitive operating conditions; and he offers a long list of health conditions that can deny a person insurance coverage, with the list scrolling into deep space accompanied by the “Stars Wars” theme.

Pic explores why American health care came to be exploited for profit in the private sector rather than being a government-paid, free-to-consumers service as are education, libraries, fire and police. Moore comes up with an archival audio recording of Richard Nixon from February 1971, praising Edgar Kaiser and his system using incentives for less medical care. The next day Nixon addresses the nation, proposing a new health care strategy that amounted to a less-per-patient expenditure to maximize profit.

Pic starts by sketching a gamut of health-care horror stories from average Americans: those who can’t afford insurance, those who are denied coverage for various, often ludicrous reasons, and those who believe themselves well-protected, but find that the moment they avail themselves of medical services their insurance provider uses obscure technical reasons to refuse coverage, retroactively deny claims and cancel insurance, or raise rates so astronomically that the patient is forced into the ranks of the nearly 50 million uninsured.

Perhaps the most emotionally affecting story comes from Julie, a hospital worker whose husband had a potentially terminal illness that the medical staff thought could be treated with a bone marrow transplant. Insurance deemed the treatment experimental and refused to cover it. Unable to afford an alternative, the husband died.

The congressional testimony of a former Humana medical director provides a devastatingly direct description of what she calls “the dirty work of managed care.” Constantly told that she was not denying care to patients, rather simply denying them Humana’s coverage, her career advanced as she saved her corporation money.

Moore appears in his shambling folksy persona about 40 minutes into the pic, interviewing foreign citizens, American expatriates, hospital workers and doctors in countries with nationalized health care. The dramatic contrast with America is played for laughs, as the seemingly incredulous Moore continually mutters, “What do you mean it’s free?”

Pic’s most dramatic (and now controversial) tactic involves Moore taking a group to Cuba that includes 9/11 rescue volunteers with medical problems that haven’t been covered by insurance. First they go to Guantanamo Bay, which Moore proclaims as the only place on American soil with universal health care, and then to a Havana hospital where they are given treatment. Cuban seg wraps with a poignant expression of emotional solidarity between 9/11 volunteers and Cuban firemen who pay them homage.

Pic incorporates extensive archival footage (some of which comes across as grainy on the bigscreen) as well as home movies and photographs. Extracts from Communist musicals, classic comedies and horror films provide Moore further opportunity for comic editorializing.


Production: A Weinstein Co. presentation of a Dog Eat Dog Films production. (International sales: The Weinstein Co., New York.) Produced by Meghan O'Hara, Michael Moore. Executive producers, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Kathleen Glynn. Co-producer, Anne Moore. Directed, written by Michael Moore.

Crew: Editors, Dan Swietlik, Geoffrey Richman, Chris Seward; music, Erin O'Hara; associate producer, Rehya Young; line producer, Jennifer Latham. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (noncompeting), May 19, 2007. Running time: 113 MIN.

More Film

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

  • Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad

    Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood may direct “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” a look at a security guard whose life gets turned upside down after media reports identified him as a possible suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The film is currently set up at Disney/Fox and could reunite Eastwood with Alan Horn, the current Disney Studios [...]

  • Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse

    Film Review: 'Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse'

    If “The Witch” had been directed by the early-career Werner Herzog of “Aguirre,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” the result might have been something in the spirit of “Hagazussa,” Lukas Feigelfeld’s wholly arresting feature debut. Given the extended U.S. title “A Heathen’s Curse” to underline saleable supernatural elements, this enigmatic folktale-cum-horror is [...]

  • Alex Ross Perry

    Alex Ross Perry to Write and Direct Stephen King's 'Rest Stop' for Legendary

    Alex Ross Perry will write and direct Legendary’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Rest Stop.” King’s short, first published in Esquire magazine in 2003, won the national magazine award for fiction in 2004, and was later included in King’s 2008 collection, “Just After Sunset.” The movie is described as a propulsive cat-and-mouse thriller [...]

  • Hobbs & Shaw trailer

    'Hobbs & Shaw' New Trailer Touts More High-Intensity Fights

    A new “Hobbs & Shaw” trailer packs in the international action with fast cars and high-intensity fight scenes.  When the first trailer dropped in February, viewers were introduced to the genetically-enhanced villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, as well as a newly cordial relationship between old enemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason [...]

  • ralph Fiennes WHITE CROW Directing BTS

    Ralph Fiennes Examines Rudolf Nureyev's Complicated Life in 'The White Crow'

    The story of “The White Crow,” Ralph Fiennes’ latest directorial effort, is as topical as anything currently sitting on the desk of a studio head. It tells of a rebellious artist grappling with his sexuality during turbulent political times rife with tensions between the United States and an agitated Russia.  But though the upcoming film, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content