Capitalism: A Love Story (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/02/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 127 mins

Well made, well argued and superbly illustrated documentary by Michael Moore that is by turns heart-breaking and horrifying yet still manages to strike a note of hope.

What's it all about?
Michael Moore's latest documentary sets its sights on the very forces of capitalism itself, tracing America's current financial problems back to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 - which gives him an excuse to include clips from his first film, Roger and Me. Moore examines several genuinely shocking cases of capitalism-related social injustice before ending on a note of optimism with the election of Barack Obama and closing out with an amusing gimmick in which he cordons off a bank in Wall Street with crime scene tape.

The Good
The cases Moore highlights are extremely well chosen and include: a family who videotaped their own forced eviction by the bailiffs; a widower whose wife's company secretly took out an insurance policy on her so they made money when she died (a practice common enough to have earned the nickname 'dead peasant insurance'); and the horrifying example of a privatised youth detention centre in Pennsylvania who cut a deal with a crooked judge to fill up their centre with juvenile delinquents for a cut of the profits, resulting in several wrongful convictions and a huge cost to the taxpayer.

However, Moore also highlights some heart-warming, inspirational stories, such as successful worker-owned enterprises and the people of Chicago who supported a sit-in strike by workers at Republic Windows by bringing food and pledging financial support until the bank that had foreclosed on the company caved in and paid them what they were owed.

The Great
In addition, Moore has assembled a typically entertaining mix of archive footage, talking heads, animated sequences and stunts (such as vox popping people on Wall Street to find someone who can explain 'derivatives'), but he also includes a stirring clip of Roosevelt (whose proposed 'second bill of rights' would have strengthened economic security for the working classes) stating that 'People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.'

Worth seeing?
Moore's detractors are unlikely to be won over by Capitalism: A Love Story, but it's a well made, convincingly argued documentary that's by turns informative, heart-breaking, shocking, funny, entertaining, utterly depressing and likely to induce tears of impotent rage. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 17/10/2017 12:06

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