Posted at 5:28 PM on June 28, 2007
by Euan Kerr
One of the puzzling things about the documentaries which have made the big splashes in recent years such as Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" and Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is they have not really included any earth-shattering new information.
They have little nuggets here and there, but their impact comes through synthesis and re-packaging of information already available.
The same is true of Moore's investigation of the healthcare industry "Sicko." It's an entertaining (and occasionally stomach-turning) little film, and it has a real bite to it. But it's no cure-all.
Moore tells a few stories about the 50 million people without healthcare (including a guy who is self-doctoring a really nasty gash in his leg.) But he then declares "Sicko" is not a film about the uninsured. It's about the horror stories of people who have coverage, but who find that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to get the healthcare they need.
He asks "Who are we as a society" to have allowed this to happen?
He explores how the US healthcare system got where it is today.
He takes trips to Canada, Britain, France and Cuba, and finds they all have systems which are far more patient friendly and cost effective.
He also unload a torrent of one-liners which dilutes the horror of it all.
But here's the problem: Moore doesn't really offer any real solutions. Yes, there needs to be change, but it's going to take a lot of work to get there. Yes, the national health services overseas relieve people of the stress of payment. But, while they are very good, they aren't the perfect systems Moore portrays.
Moore says he wants a debate on healthcare, and no doubt "Sicko" will spur a broader discussion of the issues, but people are going to have to dig much further than the lad from Michigan does in this film.