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WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (#TIFF15 Review)

michael-moore-02WHERE TO INVADE NEXT

Directed by Michael Moore

Michael Moore: You’re just saying that because the camera is on.

The title of Michael Moore’s latest film, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, is groan inducing to say the least. It is also grossly misleading. For Moore’s first film in six years (his last was CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY), he makes a calculated, and necessary, decision to go in an entirely different direction. He’s still the liberal propagandist filmmaker hellbent on shaming America into admission of all its faults, but now he’s doing it with a wink and a smile. Will his more positive approach still fall on deaf ears though?

The premise of WHERE TO INVADE NEXT is simple enough. It’s also a tad hokey but it does the trick. Moore proposes that because America has not won a war since WWII, Congress no longer has any idea what to do with its military efforts. Enter Moore to decide where to invade next and for what reason. Only Moore isn’t really invading anywhere so much as gallivanting across the globe, visiting different countries in hopes of stealing radical social ideas that are working elsewhere in order to implement them at home. The topics are as varied as school nutrition, the war on drugs, treatment of prisoners, women’s rights and paid leave, and while the ideas themselves may seem incredible at first, their results are undeniable.

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As there are too many examples to go into them all here, one of Moore’s most telling and effective findings comes from Germany. Rather than bury its painful history, Germany encourages its citizens to never forget the horrors that were enacted by the German people during the Holocaust. Plaques with the names of people who were taken from their homes now adorn those same homes. There are signs denouncing Jews in the street taken from the period to point out the absurdity and the hatred in the thinking of the time. Even the history books in class do not try to hide the truth or play it down. The rationale is that if you never forget and you don’t look away from the darkness in your past, there is less chance of it happening again in the future. Moore then connects this to America’s inability to face their slavery roots properly as a reason there is still so much civil unrest to this day. It is a powerful point and one that Moore makes eloquently.

Moore’s ego is still intact, or perhaps it is just a part he plays to help make his point, but his persona is notably lighter and more hopeful in WHERE TO INVADE NEXT, which is not only refreshing but effective as well. The film is quite humourous at times but Moore never lets us forget what exactly we are laughing at. While he points out all these novel approaches to social change that are working in other countries, we cannot help but realize we are often laughing at how sad it is that America cannot seem to get so many of these issues fixed for themselves. As Moore reminisces at the close of the film about how the world never thought the Berlin Wall would come down until it did, he is oddly optimistic that America can still turn things around. The trouble is, as it always has been with his films, that those who need to hear his message will not go near it. What a shame because Moore’s love for his country has never been this abundant.

4.5 sheep

 

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