While not exactly a bodice ripper gothic romance, Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story definitely has pornographic tendencies, if you count its naked truth exposing some of the obscene greed perpetrated on Wall Street. And though Moore is on less solid ground when mulling vague solutions to the economic woes currently plaguing this country, his message for the masses about this national ‘robbery’ in progress as their jobs, health care and homes go up in smoke, is loud and clear: You’ve been had.
This satirical when not tragic road movie reality show is actually two love stories. The obsessive money lust of the financial elite, and the universal wait-and-see fantasy of nearly everyone else hoping to be the elite one day. Though Moore’s scathing dissection of dysfunctional political and economic relationships across America, tipping the scales at a little over two hours and with an overabundance of talking heads, is a bit too long to escape blunting its stinging manifesto.
And Moore is clearly on more uncertain and unfamiliar, less anchored turf on Wall Street and around the halls of government in DC, where little damning evidence is uncovered that we already know or still can’t figure out. But he’s best as always when just hanging out with the masses, and doing his inside-looking-out battle alongside the evicted, about to be evicted, laid off, and those struggling for inventive solutions. Like Florida neighbors banding together to liberate foreclosed homes from the banks, or workers collectively running food coops in California.
Among the many pit stops that range from hilarious to horrifying, is privatized punishment prolonging teen detention for profit; the foreclosure exploitation of an outfit called Condo Vultures; plane crashes involving fatigued, overworked pilots earning less than managers at Taco Bell, the ghoulish secret practice of corporations like Walmart and Bank (‘Robbers’) Of America taking out life insurance policies on their employees that they term ‘Dead Peasant Insurance’; and on a much lighter note, an enactment of a corporate-friendly Jesus proclaiming ‘Go forth and maximize profits’, while advising the poor, ‘I’m sorry I cannot heal your pre-existing condition, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.’
A prophet who adamantly declines the label messiah, and a kind of self-appointed Pied Piper in reverse determined to lead the downtrodden out of their misery, Moore makes his case in no uncertain terms as he winds crime scene tape all around Wall Street and insists on making citizen arrests via megaphone outside brokerage houses. And he ends with a resounding message and audience bear hug that borders on a preemptive cinematic declaration of war on behalf of the have-nots: ‘I refuse to live in a country like this, and I’m not leaving.’ Amen.
3 1/2 stars