Fahrenheit 11/9, B
Rated R, 119 minutes
Fahrenheit 11/9” is the provocative new documentary from “Bowling for Columbine’s” Michael Moore that explores President Donald Trump’s rise to power and what it means for all of us. With its title a play on words from his own “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which took a critical look at then- President George W. Bush following the September 11 terrorist attacks and a reference to November 9, the date that Trump was elected in 2016, this entertaining dissection of one our most divisive presidencies is sure to be a rallying cry for liberals and Trump haters everywhere. “Fahrenheit 11/9” lacks the focus of some of Moore’s other efforts with a tendency to chase rabbits, but it’s still an engaging, impassioned look at a chaotic presidency that seems to be flying by the seat of its pants.
Interestingly, the outspoken Academy Award winning documentarian has something in common with Trump: he’s never been one to shy away from publicity, yet unlike Trump, Moore often strives to channel his passion to doing some good by shedding light on various issues. Here, he takes square aim at Trump yet nearly all politicians in general: he’s critical of Hillary’s ineffective Presidential campaign, Obama’s inability to do any real good in regards to the Flint, Michigan water crisis as well as the lack of transparency of the “old guard” of the Democratic Party.
Speaking of the latter, Moore doesn’t spend the entire film attacking Trump, but rather looks at the state of the U.S. and why this happened. He seeks answers for Flint’s water crisis, something he largely blames on corrupt Michigan governor Rick Snyder; he sees problems with the education system, which has prompted large teacher walkouts in various states over salary and benefits as well as problems with the media (many of whom he targets as sexual predators), gun policies that has led to many school shootings like the one at Marjory Stoneman High School in Florida as well as issues of race and sociology-economics.
To this degree, “Fahrenheit 11/9” highlights both Moore’s strengths and weaknesses. His spotlighting various current issues (his handling of the aforementioned Flint water crisis is especially powerful given Flint is Moore’s hometown) creates immediacy, but in jumping around with so many issues, it lacks the depth of earlier efforts like “Columbine.” His usual slick, fast-cut editing and intermittent scare tactics - the Trump-Hitler comparison was inevitable given all of the social media memes on it - can occasionally cast doubt on the film’s context, especially given the excessive stock footage and photos he uses throughout the film.
Also of note, in mentioning many sexual predators in the US media, he overlooks one big name: Harvey Weinstein, which is likely due to his connection to the film. Weinstein and his film company had originally bankrolled “Fahrenheit 11/9” and his indictment forced Moore to seek funding elsewhere; it doesn’t help that Weinstein’s political affiliations, like Moore’s, are liberal ones. Though it doesn’t heavily impact the film, it’s an omission worth mentioning.
But to his credit, Moore creates something filled with enough humor and entertainment as he shuffles around affably (and in one scene tries to launch a citizens arrest of Snyder), not to mention uplifting especially when it explores the movement of young people following the tragic school shootings in 2017.
“Fahrenheit 11/9,” more than anything, wants to give power to the people, encouraging you to exercise your right to speak up and out when something isn’t right, and as Moore so colorfully highlights, there’s plenty wrong right now.