In Fahrenheit 11/9, political activist and acclaimed documentarian Michael Moore (Sicko, Fahrenheit 9/11, Where to Invade Next) takes on the Trump presidency in a film which asks the question many of us have asked since the 2016 US presidential elections, what the hell happened and how can it be fixed? Launching a blistering attack on the 45th president of the United States and his shady dealings in the past as well as in the present, Moore mostly succeeds in preaching to the converted amongst us, but in the end he ultimately fails to bring anything tangible to the current discourse of why things have gone so catastrophically wrong.
Taking us all the way back to that fateful election night and the jubilance that preceded the biggest upset in the history of elections, the film attempts to come to terms with the reasons behind this upset and what to do to avoid a repeat. With clips from several public figures, including George Clooney, declaring rather matter-of factly that “Trump will never be president”, Moore can’t seem to resist a slight “told you so” tone throughout the film. A tone which, while is hugely entertaining, still doesn’t explain the popularity of a man who came out of nowhere to snatch victory out of the hands of the most deserving candidate.
Moore has a knack for catastrophising and exaggerating pretty much anything he puts his mind to you. In the case of Fahrenheit 11/9, the director could have spent a couple of hours healing rifts between left leaning people, instead he chose to put the boot into anyone who went for what they thought was the safer democratic candidate. And while films like Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11 did make some brilliant points on the subject of national health and the second Iraq war, Moore’s new film fails to have a proper go at exposing the Trump administration and its alleged dealings with Russia. Instead we are subjected to a thoroughly unsettling tabloid-style take-down of the former administration whom he believes to be responsible for what happened.
Having said that, this latest piece of agitprop from Moore still delivers the goods when it matters the most. The film is at its very best when it unites people together in their struggle against greed, racism and inequality. In a section which aims to highlight the importance of challenging Republican incumbents, Moore does a fantastic job in introducing a group of women who made it their goal in life to stand up to Donald Trump, both metaphorically as well as literally. Elsewhere, Moore also gives a voice to the Parkland school shooting survivors in a section which I’d challenge anyone not to be moved to tears by.
On the whole Fahrenheit 11/9 presents an interesting and at times hugely entertaining narrative throughout, but the question remains the same, didn’t we already know all this stuff before?