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Film Review: Where to Invade Next

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★★★☆☆

Michael Moore’s newest documentary, whilst another sweeping attack on US politics, has been dubbed his ‘happy’ movie and is a romantic European travelogue.

Where To Invade Next - Michael MooreWhere To Invade Next might be a new approach for Moore but the purpose is the same as his classic documentaries – to make a point of the failings of the US.

The premise of the film is that US officials have recruited Moore to solve the country’s biggest issues by “invading” nations that seem to have their acts together: Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Tunisia and Iceland.

Moore’s disbelief at the societal benefits of living and working outside the United States is both a source of humour and poignancy.

In Italy, he cannot believe a policeman has banked 80 paid vacation days over time; in France, schoolchildren gag at photographs of school lunches in the US; in Norway, prison conditions are akin to holiday resorts in the States.

And the shock is two-sided. To these European and African interviewees, it is normal to reap the benefits of higher taxes, creating an apparent society built on community and not individuals.

One Tunisian interviewee chastises Americans for being self-involved, saying “being the strongest ones stops them from just being curious”.

In Finland, polite criticisms continue as teachers suggest that Americans abandon homework as the Finnish have: “Your brain has to relax now and then”, they say.

Moore’s first-hand examples create valid points. The idea of getting free three-week prescriptions to go to spas, as they do in Germany, sounds incredible. Living in a world where female politicians are completely commonplace, as they are in Iceland? Pretty ideal.

But, as with all his work, the critique falls a little short because of his oversimplification of the US’s faults and other countries’ benefits.

He does however acknowledge this in the film, saying he’s travelling the world to “pick the flowers, not the weeds”—which is fine, but one could do the same flower-picking in the United States, the very country he’s criticising.

As the film progressed, the slick production and hyperbole created a really negative view of the US, despite the obvious fact that, to some degree, picking and choosing information to share.

I guess that was the point. Moore does a good job of ending on a more optimistic note, though, standing in front of the Berlin wall.

He and a friend recount being onsite when people began chiselling away at the wall’s foundations. They reminisce about how the wall came down, and how a few months later Nelson Mandela was freed from prison—how in that time, anything felt possible.

If those events could happen, so could these changes in the United States.

Moore also emphasises the fact that interviewees repeatedly tell him that some of their most successful features of their countries originated in the US. If the founding fathers could set these ideas in stone, we have the power to bring them back.

For all of Moore’s obvious bias in making these documentaries he is still worthwhile voice in American political discourse and Where To Invade Next is the latest of his must-see works.

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