Above all else in Capitalism: A Love Story is the scene in which Michael Moore goes home to Flint, Michigan right after the auto industry collapse. Detroit has been eviscerated in the aftermath of the GM collapse, and as longtime documentary filmgoers remember, it was GM that was the subject of Moore’s first film, 1989’s Roger and Me. Yes, Moore has made millions through film, yet in his films he always comes across as a compassionate everyman. Capitalism: A Love Story is his most heated and searing film since Fahrenheit 9/11, but not necessarily his best.
Originally started as a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore winds up focusing on the economic collapse of 2008 and the corporate greed and incompetence that led up to it. He takes direct aim at a completely unregulated Wall Street and a banking system that does anything but help its customers. In his opinion, the consequences have created the widest gap ever between the rich and poor and led to unending job loss.
Like his politics or not, Moore is a gifted filmmaker. One minute he’ll have you on the verge of tears and the next you’ll be laughing, even if uncomfortably. Capitalism opens with a Moore trademark: an expose on families who have fallen on hard times and how no one around them cares. The viewer is swept in, and then Moore goes on his search for answers. He speaks with politicians, stock market gurus, and a variety of economic minds. In a Moore first, as far as I know, he even speaks with religious figures regarding whether or not characters from the Bible would approve of the style of capitalism that has overtaken the United States.
Save for one gimmick at the end, which is satisfying, Moore is about as serious as he was in Sicko here. I think watching Flint and almost all of Michigan disintegrate economically, and he notes that it is no longer just his home state that is now barren, has only ramped up his hatred for capitalism. And make no mistake: he hates it. He wants Capitalism: A Love Story to be a call to arms for those who are sick of getting the short end of the stick and seeing The American Dream die before their very eyes.
Very few will completely agree with Moore’s stance. He’s fairly out there on a few of his points, but the again it’s nice to see someone at least seeking some answers. In an era where we’re supposed to blindly say, “yes please”, to a $700 billion bailout with no strings attached, Moore comes across as a clearer thinker than most of the talking heads we see on TV daily. Moore has been the first one to take on some hot button issues in the past (remember when Fahrenheit 9/11 came out in 2004 and it seemed outrageous that someone was challenging the Iraq War?) and in a few years it will be interesting to see where the country stands in terms of economic principles.
Studio: Overture Films
Length: 127 Minutes
Rating: R for some language.
Theatrical Release: September 23, 2009 (Limited)
Directed by: Michael Moore
Written by: Michael Moore
Cast: Michael Moore