Cast: Michael Moore
Director: Michael Moore
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” is a provocative and comedic look at the times in which we live. It will explore the two most important questions of the Trump Era: How the f**k did we get here, and how the f**k do we get out? It’s the film to see before it’s too late.
After the disaster that was Death of a Nation, it is only natural for a liberal documentary to come out in retaliation to Dinesh D’Souza’s attempt to sway audiences on his side. Fahrenheit 11/9 is the latest documentary by Michael Moore that covers the events during the Trump administration and the years leading up to Trump becoming president. Regardless of your political leaning, Moore has made his career on launching stunts and acting controversially on the issues that matter to him which has resulted in him becoming a figure of high influence to those that agree with him and a villain to those who do not. In his latest feature, Moore does an excellent job of reaching across the aisle of making people realize that the system is only in place to help the system, but the film lacks a clear sense of direction to tie it all together.
Moore’s primary focus is the rise of Donald Trump from a former television star and real-estate mogul to President of the United States as well as examples of issues that inspired Trump and ones that have occurred during his presidency. These events include the Flint Water Crisis and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and both the positive and negative responses that came from these events. The main things I took away from this documentary is the level of detail and the effective use of ethos on every issue. Of the issues that are looked at, the one that stands out for its level of detail is the Flint Water Crisis in Moore’s hometown. Obviously Moore cares about what is happening to the people of the town he grew up in, but he has done an incredible amount of research on the topic and understands just how many people have been impacted by this issue. Moore criticizes everyone involved in this problem regardless of their political affiliation, even President Obama and his poor response to the crisis is shown in its fullest. If anything, what this segment does best is show us how many people, from the government to the hospitals, should be in jail for their compliance in the mass poisoning of thousands of poor people. A good documentary on topics like this will make you feel a level of disgust and dread from the actions of the corrupt and this movie does it at a level that is rarely seen. Combine these feelings with Moore’s surprisingly bipartisan tone and while one of the central issues Moore focuses on is the actions of Trump, he blames people on both sides for allowing him to come to power. From the Clintons and the DNC, to the 24-hour news cycle and the executives at NBC, Moore takes an interesting approach in describing how Trump became president regardless of Moore’s disdain for Trump and takes a different approach than many people in the media.
Regardless of the positive traits of this film, it still has significant flaws that prevent it from being Moore’s best. The first is that there is no clear direction or thesis in this movie. It feels as though Moore took all of the major issues that occurred over the last five years and tried to connect them to one another instead of focusing on a central thesis and finding evidence to support it. It is hard to see a correlation between the Flint Water Crisis and Trump when Trump was not in office when the incident first occurred. On top of this issue, Moore does his usual antics of making baseless claims without providing facts to back it up and also does his best to get kicked out of events or arrested at every opportunity. One of Moore’s claims is that Trump’s announcement of his bid for president was fake and that he paid all of the supporters $50 to be there. I cannot find evidence to support this, and this is usually the tactic of someone like D’Souza. Moore should know by now that if you want people to support you, you need to provide evidence to an argument. Making one unsubstantiated claim when you are trying to make a change could make people believe that all of your claims are unsubstantiated, which naturally could cause issues for Moore. Outside of his claims, Moore does things like trying to make a citizen’s arrest on the governor of Michigan and watering the governor’s lawn with Flint’s water, which are obviously included not to prove a point but to just shock or entertain the audience. While Moore is clearly passionate about his work, stunts like these can make it difficult for those outside of his target audience to take him seriously.
Overall, while I think Moore tried to show us the emotional weight of the situation we are currently in, I could not help but feel hope by the end of the film. After seeing people like David Hogg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who decided they were not satisfied with the way the system was running and are actively working to change it shows me that our situation is not as hopeless as we make it out to be. Democracy does not work unless we actively participate in it, and while Moore’s documentary has its flaws, no one can argue that he is not participating.
Overall Score: 7.5/10