Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore hasn’t made a film since 2009 when he released Capitalism: A Love Story after the global financial crisis, and for many viewers, the last good film Moore did was Fahrenheit 9/11 way back in 2004. But Moore’s new Where To Invade Next aims to recapture some of the glory of his past films, itself bringing about a change of tone for the filmmaker who’s audience and critics always considered negative and unhopeful.
In this humorous documentary, Moore takes a look at some of Europe’s finest policies and how each of these nations are successfully keeping workers happy, providing superior schooling systems, running humane prisons, promoting healthy sexual attitudes, embracement of women in society and remembering the difficult times that have shaped a country. Whilst many people will reject this drive-by tourism and selective observance of certain ways of another nation, Moore successfully gets the audience to learn and observe how these policies work in other nations, ultimately making a crowd pleaser that leaves the audience with more optimism than Bowling For Columbine did.
This experiment of sociology no doubt gives an insight into how the rest of the world works, with a humorous twist of claiming that Americans invade nations, take the best parts and say it was theirs all along. Naturally Moore’s rambling commentary is heard throughout, at times over excessive and swallowing the opinions of others in the film. The opening is will surely stay with any viewer, seeing a snapshot of a nation in turmoil, with many minority and working class people suffering across the USA at the hands of the ruling class, government and multinational corporations.
By exploring more than one issue and more than one country, the broad scope is easier to stomach and allows all viewers to learn about the many facets of life across the globe. As noted, some detractors will claim that his example-by-example strategy doesn’t acknowledge for other circumstances in which nations suffer from other social or political issues despite their achievement in one sector.
As expected from one of Moore’s documentaries, there is a specific demographic that he appeals to, and this should be kept in mind for any viewers not familiar with his past work. Present is not a balanced and politically nuanced film about the issues that affect the world, rather a strong commentary against the failures of American society and government about bringing it’s own change to better it’s people. And for that, Moore should be commended.
Published in The Australia Times, 1 June, 2016.