If Capitalism: A Love Story is indeed Michael Moore’s last documentary (as it’s rumored to be), then America’s most notorious nonfiction provocateur has achieved quite an affecting oeuvre. His latest film, an often brilliant assault on the evils of governmental and business corruption predicating the Great Recession, produces some grand and biting critiques culminating in a gut punch of a third act calling for nothing short of a economic revolution by the American citizenry. Moore vividly reveals why this particular dam has been cracking for decades (one astute bank regulator named Bill Black makes this very convincing analogy), painting a timeline of slow decline perpetrated in some way by all of the last four Presidential Administrations. There’s more than enough blame to sink both sides of the political party divide.
Much like Sicko, Moore doesn’t entirely rely on the patented pop culture montages and archival tangents to make his point. The most potent and jarring moments come in his talking heads interviews with everyday people, be it the Illinois family paid to remove their own furniture and possessions by the very bank that’s evicting them, or the collection of Chicago factory workers blessed by a Bishop during their week long sit in at a Window/Door factory. Moore has a keen ability to morph typically muted affectations into moments of damning injustice.
Capitalism: A Love Story further proves why Moore should be considered one of the great montage artists in film history. His editing borders on breakneck, framing personal histories and tragedies around epic news footage, pop culture artifacts, and disturbing presentational data. Most critics get hung up on Moore’s grandstanding and miss the forest for the trees. Moore pokes and prods the politicians, lobbyists, and businessmen with a hot poker, hoping to see the devil pop out the other side. It seems like a need rather than a fetish. Moore’s success and failure comes down to whether or not you believe he’s doing this for the American people or himself. I tend to be optimistic in this regard, and view him as a filmmaker of the people.