Michael Moore takes aim at pretty big target with Capitalism: A Love Story, and consequently is a lot less successful in getting his message across.
The idea of exploring the evils of capitalism in the USA is a much bigger job than exploring gun control, the healthcare system or even the political fallout from September 11. Capitalism rears its ugly head in almost every corner of the globe, so it’s a pretty hard sell – Moore doesn’t give us much with which to compare it. In Sicko he was able to go to France and the UK to show us just how wonderful the US health care system could be, but in his latest film he doesn’t really have anywhere to turn. Sure, there are some inspirational figures we should have listened to (President Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the Union address), and some who have managed to yell loudly enough to be heard (expert on white collar crime, William Black) but there aren’t many alternate models to which he can turn our attention, other than briefly mentioning how Germany and Japan have done things differently since World War II, but are now more interested in being like America.
As a general overview of the evils of capitalism, the film is reasonably successful. A lot of the blame seems to lie with Reagan – or rather his puppet masters – for making the US a lot more appealing to big business. The film highlights a score of significant events/trends since the changes he introduced, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s all heading towards the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The film feels like it didn’t quite know when it was to be released – Barack Obama’s victory is mentioned, but followed by a disclaimer, effectively stating that he’s an unknown quantity – we don’t really know what he’s going to do to or for the corporations.
You would be wise to watch this film as a double with The Corporation. Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar’s 2003 film is a much more detailed examination of exactly why we have evil international companies which are quite content to metaphorically rape the world and its inhabitants, all in the interests of taking care of their stockholders.
Moore’s latest film is still entertaining and funny but lacks focus. One can’t simply make a documentary about ‘capitalism’ it seems, because the subject matter is too big. Or maybe one can and Moore simply fails, I’m not sure. This film is likely to continue the trend of preaching to the converted, though unlikely to influence much change in viewers’ habits, except for deliberately avoiding some of the companies targeted by the film and thinking twice before refinancing the homes they already own.Rating: