Crusading American documentary filmmaker Michael Moore returns with his first work since 2015’s Where To Invade Next. In that time, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the race to the White House, one of the most shocking presidential campaigns in history. As Moore so bluntly puts it at the beginning of Fahrenheit 11/9, “How the fuck did we get here?”
A sequel-of-sorts to his Palme d’Or-winning Fahrenheit 9/11, which examined George Bush, and the invasion of Iraq in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks, this time, the title refers to November 9th, 2016 – the day of the election. But it’d be wrong to expect Moore’s film to be a take-down of Trump (in fact, the film dispenses with his horrifying list of decisions – repealing Obamacare, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and so on – in just a few minutes).
Rather, Fahrenheit 11/9 is a state-of-the-nation address, a look at the system that brought us Trump. It’s harsh on Hillary and the elite at the Democrats; there are shocking revelations about Bernie Sanders and how all 55 counties in West Virginia voted for Sanders but the Democrats pledged to support Hillary anyway. It’s harsh on Obama too and his time in the White House – his record on the use of drone strikes and immigrant deportations.
Perhaps it would be too easy to simply mock Trump, a man immune to mockery (although there is a rather uneasy segment on his inappropriate comments towards his daughter, Ivanka). Moore has more telling issues on his mind, notably how Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder ignored reports of a contaminated water supply being pumped to the public during a seemingly needless switch over to a new pipeline. The impact on Moore’s home town of Flint, Michigan, is devastating.
Likewise, the scenes covering the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, although the way the Stoneman Douglas students stand up to organise demonstrations across the country to rally for gun control and address politicians taking campaign donations from the National Rifle Association is inspirational. Maybe this is Moore’s point: our only chance for a brighter future is to leave it to those not yet old enough to vote.
No question, Fahrenheit 11/9 is an unwieldy beast of a film – arguably three movies in one (Trump, Michigan’s water crisis, Parkland). While it’s always narrated with his usual dry humour, Moore doesn’t always harness his arguments into a coherent whole. It smacks of a man fed up with what his nation has become, a man desperately looking for a solution to complex issues. As he says at the end: “We need action.”
Fahrenheit 11/9 opens on 19 October. For more details, click here.
1. Trailer for Fahrenheit 11/9. Courtesy of Vimeo.