DI­REC­TOR Michael Moore CAST Roger Ailes, Brooke Bald­win, Ashleigh Ban­field, Steve Ban­non

Empire (Australasia) - - On.Screen -

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.

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