WHERE TO INVADE NEXT
Director: Michael Moore
Screenwriter: Michael Moore
Runtime: 119 mins.
Australian release date: 7 April 2016
Previewed at: Dendy Newtown, Sydney, on 4 April 2016.
An even larger Michael Moore than usual (Capitalism: A Love Story / Bowling For Columbine / Fahrenheit 9/11) sets out on “a mission to pick the flowers not the weeds” of progressive ideas in his latest documentary, Where To Invade Next. In an attempt to make the USA take a serious look at itself, he playfully ‘invades’ parts of Europe and North Africa to ‘steal’ policies that in some cases originated in the USA and were embraced by the rest of the world but are currently ignored in their land of origin. Ideas like free secondary and tertiary education, recognition of workers’ rights and equal representation of women in work and politics. He maintains that many Americans know what is wrong with the USA but are unaware that there are answers to these problems that are working right now in other places.
In Italy he interviews a couple of workers who regale him with stories of their eight weeks annual leave. There is a moment when the camera steadies on Moore’s face and you can almost see the WTF? thought-bubble above his head - a similar expression comes from the Italians when Moore reveals that you are lucky to get two weeks annual leave in the good ol’ USA. Then on to France, where healthy lunches are served in schools, a chef plans the menus and the fresh, nutritious meals work out cheaper than the equivalent USA processed crap. A friend sends a couple of photos of the canteen lunch at her US college and you can almost see the French students gagging; there’s a funny scene in which he offers his can of Coca-Cola to one of the French students who gets a case of the shakes after one sip! It seems they don’t have vending machines in French schools and fizzy drinks aren’t on sale. Vive la France!
Moore goes on to cover the educational systems in Slovenia and Finland and interviews the odd US student who has taken up their studies overseas to escape the horrendous USA college fees. He looks at the strong presence of females in the Icelandic government and business sectors and the amazing prison system in Norway where gaols look like holiday camps and prisoners have the keys to their own ‘cells.’
Where To Invade Next is provocative film-making in Moore’s inimitable style and it is well worth seeing as he reminds us how we need to keep ourselves informed and that life as we know it, including in Australia, is not necessarily the best it could be. We may think have all the answers but we need to acknowledge that there is often a better way to do things, especially as there is a push here to adopt US-style education and health policies. It’s good to see that Moore keeps lumbering down the path he started on way back in 1989 with Roger & Me.