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Fahrenheit 11/9 review - Moore's angriest and most urgent film to date


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In his latest documentary, filmmaker and left-wing activist Michael Moore sets his sights on American president Donald Trump, elected on that fateful morning, the 9th of November 2016 – hence his reversed title Fahrenheit 11/9.

In the two-hour long exposé he reveals how fragile American democracy is right now, answering the crucial questions of “how the fuck did this happen?” and “what to do now?”. This is Moore’s angriest and broadest film, tackling the greatest villain of his career while covering topics of gun violence, voter suppression, government corruption, the war on terror, and the Flint water crisis.

While Fahrenheit is one of Moore’s best and most darkly funny films, and expresses the filmmaker’s distinct blend of witty juxtaposition, news clips, interviews and stunts, it also serves as a moment of self-reflection for the director; Moore recognises that he, too, took it too easy on Trump in the beginning – like when he played along when he and Donald were both guests on Roseanne Barr’s talk show, or when Jared Kushner threw the premiere party for Sicko.

He does this to hammer the point that Trump has always been corrupt, and committed outrageous actions in plain sight. It’s just that people don’t care, and allowed him to continue. Hence all the parallels the film draws between Trump’s America and Hitler’s Germany – Moore isn’t here to throw punches at Trump, he’s here to warn just how close America is to democracy’s total destruction.

Halfway through the documentary, the film turns to the Flint water crisis, a situation that predates Trump’s administration. What’s the relevance, you might ask? Moore takes a close look at Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s poisoning of thousands of children in the name of corporate profits, what the filmmaker calls a “slow-motion ethnic cleansing” of the poor, black population of Flint.

Snyder got away with doing so by declaring a state of emergency and replacing elected officials with his own men; Moore’s point is that a whole population as poisoned because government structures had been removed. The film therefore asserts that Trump is the result of America’s failed democracy, and that the safeguards we are still relying upon to stop him – elections, the Constitution, the Democrats – are no longer valid options.

Fahrenheit turns to inspiring instances of grass-roots rebellion, the people who stood up in the place of corrupt politicians: the West Virginian teachers who kept striking even after their union advised them to stop, young radical politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young people who survived the Parkland shooting, the whistle blower who refused to cover up the Flint children’s blood results. Yet it’s not enough.

No, Moore’s documentary is not to celebrate an uprising that is already happening, it’s to encourage one that has yet to happen. His target is the 100 million Americans who did not vote in 2016, what he calls the non-voting majority. This is their call to arms. Only they can stop the complete destruction of democracy, the film asserts.

Fahrenheit 11/9 may not be the smoothest film, but it is the most urgent, angry and important film to witness right now.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is out now, distributed by Vertigo Releasing. 

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