Michael Moore is back, and he’s back full of rage, anger and determination to tell it as it is even if the rest of the world wants to bury their heads in the sand. This is the man who took on the NRA, the Bush administration and the health care system in America. And he has a new target in his sights. None other, than Mr. Donald Trump. Although, Moore’s outrage machine is not aimed directly at the 45th President of the United States, but at the media, the democratic party and Gwen Stefani. Moore pulls back the band-aid that is trying hold a crippled country together, in order to show the viewer a system that disenfranchises voters, mistreats its poor, and allows corruption to flourish. There’s a real sense of passion behind this latest project of Moore’s and as a result Fahrenheit 11/9 is ultimately Moore’s best film in years.
The documentary starts with the days just before the election, when the world was told that Hillary Clinton was going to be the next President. Looking back, just those short couple of years (although it sometimes feels like a lifetime ago) there was no doubt that Clinton was going to win. Moore uses footage of women crying after casting votes for her, and news reporters laughing about how Trump has no chance to win, with the use of ‘Fight Song’ blasting out, in all of it’s over eager pop glory. Then, suddenly the truth sinks in and Moore shows the footage of Trump’s face being projected on the Empire State Building. It’s enough to send shivers down your spine.
Moore quickly rushes through the history of Trump with such a manic approach that it’s almost hard to follow. From the role Gwen Stefani played in his Presidency (he was outraged that she was being paid more for her role on The Voice, then his role of The Apprentice), to how creepy Trump can sometimes be with his daughter Ivanka (yes, we see those photos) to his history with the “Central Park Five”. Although, these are facts and ‘gossip’ that is known to the public, so one may feel that at first that this documentary is directionless. And, with the Trump Presidency being analyzed in real-time, what could a documentary about him possibly add to the conversation? However, Moore isn’t really interested in the tabloid drama surrounds Trump and the Republicans. No, what Moore is interested in, is the really dirty stuff and he’s going to roll up sleeves and get stuck right in.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is at its strongest when it settles down in a place that Moore knows very well: Flint, Michigan. One suspects that many outside of Flint, aren’t aware of its water crisis. Moore presents the case of the downright criminal behavior that went down in Flint in stark, terrifying terms, speaking to a pediatrician about the lead levels in the water and even trying to perform a citizen’s arrest on Governor Rick Snyder. In one bold move Moore turns up with a glass of water for Snyder to wet his lips. How does this tie in with Trump. Well, Moore suggest that by Snyder getting away with his crimes, it may have inspired Trump to operate in previously unimaginable ways in plain sight. Although, Moore is a little ham-fisted with his comparison with Trump to Hitler, still it’s hard not to be caught up in all of Moore’s fire and fury.
It isn’t just Flint, Michigan which is the focus of Moore’s attention. As the film develops, he expands to other issues that clearly matter to him, including a teachers’ strike in West Virginia and the Parkland kids. It would take someone with a real lack of compassion, not to be moved by this. Moore proposes the crazy notion, that shouldn’t issues like water that doesn’t poison our children, teachers making enough money to be above the poverty line, and a way to stop school shootings be issues that everyone, regardless of party, gets behind? It is clear that to Moore (and a massive amount of people), that the democratic system is broken, and needs to radically change.
Perhaps, Fahrenheit 11/9 would have been a stronger film if it didn’t try to cram so much into its two-hour run time. However, considering how much has taken place in the last two years, it’s amazing that Moore has managed to condensed it down. America may not be ready for Moore’s documentary, as it only achieved a little over $3 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend in 1,719 theaters. Still, Moore seems to have kept his fighting spirit, and maybe that might rub off on a few undecided voters in 2020. I guess, only time will tell whether Moore will be doing a follow-up documentary in two years time.