Michael Moore's didactic documentary style is actually a source of inspiration in Capitalism: A Love Story
. This film, which explores the history of incongruence between American capitalism and democracy, is evidently a culmination of Moore's lifetime of research into this topic: he begins the movie by admitting his longstanding interest, rooted in childhood experiences in Flint, Michigan. As a result, the film displays an expertise that is less irritating than in Moore's earlier works, in which various loopholes can be found in one-sided presentations (see Bowling for Columbine
). Here Moore employs his trademark tactics to make a satirical documentary that functions as a film-based, grassroots political strategy meant to provoke revolt. Consisting of patched-together clips from various eras and media outlets, the film weaves a narrative that underscores Moore's argument that while America is a success because of its democracy, it has been denigrated by capitalism, which he calls "a system of taking and giving, mostly taking." Capitalism: A Love Story
is a patriotic call to arms that seeks to ignite rage in the viewer who is tired of political stupidity resulting in poverty and hardship among a dwindling middle class. It begins by tracing the growing gap between the rich and poor, from the Depression through the 1950s "free enterprise" boom. Using clips of FDR and Jimmy Carter warning against greed and inequality, Moore shows how gradually Americans came to accept Reaganomics, corporate corruption, then Bush-era swindling over time. This history serves as context for his explanation of the housing crisis, the collapse of banks, and Bush's covert, last-ditch efforts to pass sketchy bills on the cusp of Obama's election. Moore asks several lawyers, senators, and bankers, "What the **** happened?" and each offers intelligent assessments of situations that many American viewers still struggle to comprehend. Unfortunately, there are corny Moore moments throughout the film, such as when he takes an armored truck to various banking headquarters and harasses security guards to let him in to reclaim money stolen from the American public. Clips of Bush dancing juxtaposed with shots of people crying because they've lost their homes are melodramatic and only weaken Moore's arguments. Like Robin Hood, Moore seeks justice, but his greatest strength is as a translator between those speaking a complex political language and his viewers. Capitalism: A Love Story
, while it does have a condescending tone throughout, does much to relay a complicated history that we all need to know for the sake of our own empowerment.
In presenting a “fireball of a movie that might change your life” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), Moore “skewers both major political parties” (Claudia Puig, USA Today) for selling out the millions of people devastated by loss of homes and jobs to the interests of fat cat capitalists. Moore has “dug up some astonishing dirt” (Brian D. Johnson, Macleans), stories told in the faces of the foreclosed and evicted, in the food stamps received by hungry airline pilots, and in the courage of fired factory workers who refuse to go quietly. But more than a cry of despair, Moore’s film raises the possibility of hope. Capitalism: A Love Story is “The most American of films since the populist cinema of Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life)” (Dan Siegel, Huffington Post ), “a movie that manages shrewdly, even brilliantly, to capitalize on the populist anger that has been sweeping the nation” (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal ). Capitalism: A Love Story is loaded with over 90 minutes of hilarious extended and deleted scenes, as well as exciting and informative featurettes profiling Americans and American businesses.