Where To Invade Next

 

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Being a true patriot, Michael Moore sets out to shame his country - again.

 

Where To Invade Next


 

Michael Moore, who has played a significant role in making documentary films commercially viable in cinemas, had been silent for six years prior to making this, his eighth feature. Some have acclaimed it as a return to form, but I feel that his desire to hang on to the persona that made his name has led Moore into making a film less compelling than it should have been.

 

In this indulgently overlong movie (virtually two hours in length) Moore travels the world, visiting Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Tunisia and Iceland. His aim, he says, was to pick the flowers not the weeds, so it is quite valid for him to concentrate on positive elements in each country. Attitudes to education, equally opportunities for women, generous and considerate treatment of employees and the view that the prime purpose of prison is rehabilitation are among the issues that are raised and what Moore sees as uniting them is the fact that all fit in with the traditional beliefs fostered in America but no longer reflect what is to be found in America itself.

 

This is a valuable liberal essay but, not wholly because of some sequences being overextended, the parts are stronger than the whole. Moore, a regular on-screen presence in his films, is keen to amuse his audience as of old, but here it leads to a tiresome whimsy based on the notion that Moore is invading each country that he visits so that he can plant the American flag before he leaves. The German footage doesn't sidestep Hitler and in Norway reference is made to the tragic killings there in 2011, but early on we find Moore making jokes in a tragic context and the music used frequently indulges the banal. Despite the seriousness of what is being said, Moore characteristically embroiders his finale with a clip from The Wizard of Oz and a song from Ethel Merman. Indeed it hardly seems parodic when much earlier the Italian footage is accompanied by La Donna è Mobile and by Volare. The razzmatazz is more irritating than amusing, but ultimately the importance of these lessons for America wins the day. It’s just a pity that Moore’s approach, more than a little self-congratulatory, means that the ideas expressed have to fight to emerge as strongly as they deserve.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring: Michael Moore, Krista Kiuru, Tim Walker, Dr Nuno Capaz, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Halla Tómasdóttir.

 

Dir Michael Moore, Pro Carl Deal, Tia Lessin, Michael Moore, Ph Richard Rowley and Jayme Roy, Ed Pablo Proenza, Todd Woody Richman and Tyler H. Walk.

 

Dog Eat Dog Films/IMG Films/North End Films-Dogwoof.
116 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 10 June 2016. Cert. 15.