DIRECTOR Michael Moore CAST Roger Ailes, Brooke Baldwin, Ashleigh Banfield, Steve Bannon
PLOT Documentary-maker and leftist activist Michael Moore sets his sights on the 45th President of the US Donald J. Trump — elected on 9th November, 2016 (hence the title). He reveals just how flimsy US democracy is right now, while suggesting what might be done about it.
FAHRENHEIT 11/9 IS the Infinity War of the Michael Moore Documentary Universe (or MMDU). It mashes up his previous films, harking back to and building further on Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and, above all, Moore’s personal and revelatory 1989 debut Roger & Me. Gun control, the War on Terror and the harrowing of Flint, Michigan all feed in to his latest, broadest, angriest and most troubling polemic in which Moore tackles his greatest villain yet. His own personal Thanos. President Donald Trump.
Moore has a lot to say, and he expresses it with his usual, effective blend of humorous juxtaposition, front-ofcamera stunts, news archive montage, emotional interviews and arresting sound bites. The film segues from a collage of anti-prophetic, pre-election “never gonna happen” statement clips, to a gag about it all being Gwen Stefani’s fault, to heart-rending encounters with high-school gun massacre survivors, to Moore spraying contaminated drinking water over the manicured front garden of mini-trump Michigan governor Rick Snyder. He draws parallels between Trump’s America and Hitler’s Germany by running audio of Donald’s oratory over footage of the Führer’s rallies, and hurls out incendiary statements such as “the worst thing Obama did was pave the way for Donald Trump”.
When Moore’s on a roll, nobody’s gonna stop him, even if that roll is ziggy, zaggy and rather protracted. Fahrenheit 11/9 is a scattershot broadside which, at just over two hours long, would have benefitted from the excision of a few off-brief distractions. At times it feels like there’s two movies playing at the same time: the one you expect, in which Moore asks “how the fuck did this happen?” and one which feels like a direct Roger & Me sequel, in which he tackles Flint’s ongoing water crisis, where government corruption led to the lead-poisoning of 10,000 children — mostly black, all poor; what Moore calls a “slow-motion ethnic cleansing”.
The latter strand is interesting, infuriating and a story that needs to be told. But it would have been better treated if given its own documentary, rather than Trojan Horsed into this one on the tangential basis that it’s the kind of consequence Americans can expect on a national level from electing a rich, self-serving Snyder-like weasel as President.
Despite its distractedness, Moore’s film makes its main points with upsetting potency. Trump, he asserts, is the result of a slow-burn failure of American democracy, and people shouldn’t sit back and hope the Constitution, or elections, or the Special Prosecutor will end this madness. As inspiring as his examples of grass-roots insurgency are, however, it’s not hard to stumble out of Fahreneheit 11/9 thinking, “Yep. We’re all fucked.” Like in Infinity War, the bad guy won. DAN JOLIN
VERDICT An uneven but appropriately rousing attack on Trump, which occasionally loses its focus as it makes its bigger, scarier points about the United States’ slide into despotism.
Moore takes a Trump dump.