Empire (UK) - - ON. SCREEN -

Di­rec­tor Michael Moore cast Michael Moore, Alexan­dria Oca­sio-cortez, David Hogg, Don­ald Trump, Rick Sny­der

PLOT Doc­u­men­tary-maker Michael Moore sets his sights on the 45th Pres­i­dent of the United States — elected on 9 Novem­ber (hence the ti­tle). He re­veals 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 into 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-of-cam­era 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 ben­e­fited from the ex­ci­sion of a few off-brief dis­trac­tions. At times it feels like there are 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.

Michael Moore uses his Trump card.

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