Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Michael Moore is a talented and provocative filmmaker. His past documentaries have skilfully tackled America’s sociopolitical problems head-on, offering biting commentary and engaging discussion on controversial issues like gun control, universal health care and 9/11. It’s been years since his last major theatrical feature, Capitalism: A Love Story (2009), but none of his fire or passion seems to have faded, as Moore delivers perhaps his best, most upbeat documentary yet, the provocatively titled Where To Invade Next.
It’s simple but effective stuff. Moore travels the world, visits multiple countries and meets representatives from major companies, religious and political spectrums, highlights how different countries and cultures have found a better way of running elements of society than the USA, and seeks to uncover why. The differences are numerous – Italy has better rights and benefits for its workers. Norway has a softer but more effective prison system. Slovenia has free higher education. Even France has better school dinners!
It’s educational and a real eye opener, to say the least. This reviewer was certainly taken aback by some of the facts Moore reveals. Lightheartedly grilling his interviewees for information as to how their country can run things the way they do, the man is presented with a fair share of interesting ideas as to how America could and should improve itself. Indeed, there’s a strong undercurrent of negativity towards the USA throughout proceedings, but Moore makes sure to turn this about by the film’s end. Despite highlighting the US’s shortcomings compared to other countries’ way of doing things, the film keeps an optimistic air about itself, refusing to be overly preachy, but is instead simply content to ask “is there a better way?”
As with previous efforts, Moore’s touch for editing is nothing short of masterful. His clever use of clips, his music choices and his sense of timing all give proceedings a power and a resonance, not just in the film’s comedic moments, but also within the most sombre parts of the narrative. Moore’s almost-sarcastic and light-hearted interview technique enables him to get the best out of his interviewees, and the film weaves itself together in a fashion which is breezy, fun and engaging. Even the bright, vibrant photography adds to the shovelfuls of optimism and spirit and is beautiful to behold throughout (Slovenia has never looked prettier on film than it does here).
Michael Moore’s films are not to everyone’s taste. Neither are his views. But there’s no denying that Where To Invade Next is a well-made, engaging and thought-provoking film, the type that educates, informs, and encourages debate and discussion. No matter what your political viewpoint is, to ignore its points outright would be a shame. To ignore the film completely would be shameful altogether.
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