By Todd Gilchrist, reprinted from the Toronto International Film Festival 9/16/09
There is a mentality among some people that suggests our country was and is built upon the idea that if one works hard, is honest, and applies him or herself, he or she will be successful. My own opinion notwithstanding, the basic thread of Capitalism: A Love Story suggests otherwise: Michael Moore would have you believe that the bottom 95 percent of the economic spectrum has so thoroughly bought into the dream they could one day become part of that top five that they themselves essentially reinforce the impossibility of that ever happening. But its theories of institutional corruption and self-fulfilling propaganda notwithstanding, the film's only real leap of logic or falsehood is that audiences not predisposed to agree will want to see it. All of which is why Capitalism is essentially a one-sided love story, even if its message could be truly reciprocal if enough people opened their minds up enough to hear it.
Admittedly, Moore's net is cast wider with this film than in previous ones, and as a result his focus is a little softer. But Capitalism basically examines the ways in which excessive greed and self-interest has eclipsed the ideals of our democratic state, on both sociopolitical and deeply personal levels.