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USA 2009
Directed by
Michael Moore
127 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3.5 stars

Capitalism: A Love Story

Synopsis: Michael Moore’s new documentary explores the global economic meltdown with a trademark comic-serious skewering of the corporate and political practices which led to a massive transfer of US taxpayer money to private financial institutions (described as “the biggest robbery in history”).



Michael Moore returns with a film originally predicted to be a straight sequel to his Cannes Palme d’Or winner Fahrenheit 9/11 which covered the reign of George Bush during the war on terror. Although they remain inextricably interlinked, Capitalism is more about finance than politics, with the global financial crisis and American taxpayer bail-out of the financial sector at the heart of the film.


Along the way, Capitalism covers a swag of topics including private prisons, impoverished airline pilots, and whether today Jesus would be a capitalist.  Like Moore’s other record grossing documentaries he sets upon his targets with trademark humour, japery, and tendentious simplification. Whilst making the topic accessible,the film is a polemic as well as a documentary. Moore also invests his own personal philosophy as a Catholic, resulting in one religious writer suggesting that Moore be nominated ‘Catholic of the Year’. In the award stakes, Moore has already picked up the Little Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for Capitalism.


Moore knocks on many corporate doors and exposes many fascinating yet terrifying corporate practices and assessments. For example, Citibank’s happy description of America as a plutocracy, a nation where the topone percent of the population control more wealth than the bottom 95%. Or take the companies profiting from dead peasant insurance, where companies insure themselves against the deaths of their employees. The archival footage, such as Franklin D Roosevelt calling for the guarantee of Americans’ jobs, homes, healthcare and education brings home the message of sadly unrealised aspirations.


Amongst the catastrophes, Moore finds some positive voices and alternatives. The film promotes Elizabeth Warren’s role as overseer of the ‘Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act’, and praised such characters as Sheriff Warren Evans who suspended home evictions in his County. Moore himself posits workplace democracy (‘co-determination’), with workers sharing power and responsibility, as an alternative to the modern capitalist employer-worker arrangement.


Whether or not you are a lover of the right or left end of the political spectrum, Moore always has plenty of provocative, if sometimes, manipulative, material (cue children crying and evocative music). So far, the number of factual errors or oversimplifications in the film identified in the mainstream press appear relatively few. So the audience looks set to be entertained or outraged, but definitely better informed.




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