Of all of Michael Moore’s movies, this one hit closest to the heart. Less inflammatory but no less shocking, the crux of the matter is health care, or the lack of an adequate health care system and a current iteration that is failing millions in the United States. People are sick and they are not getting help.
I screened the film at the Cannes Film Festival and it was met with enthusiastic applause by the end. During the press conference immediately afterwards, Moore addressed the audience – a journalist from Canada stood up and took issue with Moore’s utopian portrayal of the Canadian health care system, raising the example of his own mother, in her mid 80s, who was taken to hospital recently and had had a terrible experience, including a misdiagnosis.
After offering his sympathies, Moore debated the reporter back and forth but in the end, Michael asked the journalist straight up:
Would you trade what you have in Canada for what we have in the United States?
Without missing a beat, the reporter said NO.
Neither would I and I have a very personal attachment to our health care system here which may not be perfect but at the same time saved my mother’s life.
Her kidneys started failing in the mid 90s. She was only in her 40s at the time. By 1998 she was on dialysis after several near death scares. For 4 hours every day my mother hooked herself up to a machine that cleaned her blood. Any infection, any illness, even a simple cold could end her life. And it was not a way to live, either. Having to interrupt her mahjong games to go get her blood detoxed was a serious inconvenience. But a transplant seemed so far in the distance. She was on the list but the list was moving slowly.
She talked about going to America but financially it wasn’t feasible. She even thought about buying one off the black market – apparently you can barter for kidneys right next door to imitation Louis Vuitton bags in Asia.
But then came a phone call the middle of the night in 2002. There was a perfect match. A kidney. A strong kidney. Within hours my mother was prepped. 12 hours after the initial call, the surgery was complete. Her brand new kidneys were functioning on their own.
Through dialysis, through treatment, through surgery, we did not have to sell the house. We did not have to sell the car. She did not have to trade in her fur coats, nor did she have to melt down her safety deposit box full of baubles (in her overly dramatic moments, my mother was prone to launching herself onto the couch and threatening my father with her jewels. Incidentally she still does this on occasion when she feels he’s ignoring her).
So when I watched Sicko, I thought about my mother. Even though the Canadian health care system is not perfect, (Repeat: it is far from perfect) I thought about how lucky we are. I thought about how unlucky others are. And I thought about how sensitive Moore was on the subject, especially in comparison to his other documentaries.
For me it was a riveting 2 hours. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve no doubt you’ll feel the same whether you agree or disagree.
Rolling Stone called Sicko “one of the year’s best”. And the Sicko DVD comes out on November 6th. I have 5 copies to give away.
If you are interested, please send an email to [email protected] with SICKO as the title.
Entries must be received by Saturday November 3rd. Winners selected randomly. Good luck!
Academy Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore returns with this hilariously scathing indictment of America’s failing health system. Combining powerful personal testimonies with shocking statistics, Moore pulls the curtain back on the greedy HMOs, drug companies and congressmen who keep us ill. Travelling to Canada, England, France and Cube – where free universal healthy care is the norm – he forces the question: why can’t this happen in the US?
(c) 2007 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved. Distributed Exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.