Fahrenheit 11/9, 2018.
Directed by Michael Moore.
Travelling across America, Moore interviews citizens under the Trump administration, to get a sense of the social, economic and political impact of Trump’s victory, as well as an in-depth look at the media, the Electoral College, the government agenda and his hometown of Flint, Michigan.
In rhyme with its predecessor Fahrenheit 9/11, the opening begins Moore monologuing over the 2016 USA general election “Was it all just a bad dream?” presenting archival news footage preempting Clinton’s presidency, and the doom-laden Republican party, with genuine concern Trump wouldn’t be president. For some, the result of Donald Trump’s victory came as a gut-punch, while others already saw the writing on the wall. As Michael Moore predicted, Trump tapped into the anger and dejection of working-class Americans, who felt the Democrats had failed them. Moore reminds the audience that even Fox News outed Moore as the lone liberal voice predicting the Trump presidency.
The film preaches to the Moore fanbase, working-class liberals who have no mainstream party that represents their values. The Republicans have become more and more rightwing as each election comes around, and the Democrats remain in the centre, only to lean more to the right when the Republicans do so. Moore tackles this issue by doing what he does best; conflate facts with ideology.
Moore’s main thesis is “how the fuck did we get here?” and continues the rest of the film establishing a narrative that reflects poorly on both parties. However, it begins wrong-footed with a tongue-in-cheek “fact”. Moore establishes that it was Gwen Stefani that indirectly started the Trump campaign due to unfair payment, as she was paid more to be on The Voice than Donald Trump was for his role in The Apprentice. Whether or not this is true, it’s a little too simplistic to accept. Audiences have a plethora of Donald Trump video essays and documentaries, like Get Me Roger Stone, Dirty Money and Trump: An American Dream that highlight the different reasons as to why Trump would run for president. Starting wrong-footed like this undermines Moore’s legitimacy.
As per Moore’s oeuvre, his hometown Flint, Michigan is used as a case study, though this time it’s more relevant than ever with a water crisis that is dreadful. It serves as a prime example of unregulated capitalism trumping civic duty. With Trump promising to run America as a business, Moore looks at what happens when this happens on a smaller-scale. This case study will most likely horrify audiences and one that needs greater attention.
Moore presents his usual public antics of trying to commit a citizen’s arrest, his brief history with the other side, cherry-picking facts to support his argument, and looking for grassroots change to bring forth an America he envisions. In cherry-picking facts, he presents an idealised America that may have once existed (I’m British, so I cannot fully comment one way or the other) to present a future Americans can have. Ultimately, what Moore is saying to his audience is that change comes from the citizens and to not become complacent with the status quo.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is really for Michael Moore fans only. It is far superior to his last tepid film Where To Invade Next?, but is as fascinating as his 2009 documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. This film will unlikely sway dedicated Trump fans, but Moore, as always, makes a compelling argument in an always sincere and entertaining way that only he can pull off.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★