Fahrenheit 11/9 movie review & film summary (2020)

Here’s another fact about “Fahrenheit 11/9” that those who have partisan hatred for Moore probably don’t believe: its Trump material is actually its weakest. It starts with the days just before the election, when the world was told that Hillary Clinton was going to be the next President. There was no doubt. Footage of women crying after casting votes for her borders on cruel, and we’ve seen the nightmare that unfolded at her “victory” party over and over again. If I never hear “Fight Song” again it will be too soon. With a long lead-up, Moore asks the question, “How the fuck did this happen?”

Moore then 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 to how creepy Trump can sometimes be with his daughter Ivanka to his history with the Central Park Five, there’s a bam-bam-bam approach to the first few sequences in “Fahrenheit 11/9” that had me nervous that the entire film would unfold in this scattershot manner. With the Trump Presidency being analyzed in real-time, what could a documentary about him possibly add to the conversation?

The good news is that Moore doesn’t exactly take the approach you might expect. “Fahrenheit 11/9” improves when it settles down in a place that Moore knows very well: Flint, Michigan. There’s a doc-within-a-doc here about the water crisis in Flint that’s some of Moore’s best work in years. He 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. He ties this to Trump by pointing out that Snyder got away with it, and wondering if that inspired Trump to operate in previously unimaginable ways in plain sight. Snyder basically allowed citizens of his own state to be poisoned and lied when confronted about it. It does seem to be out of the Trump playbook. And Moore doesn’t let Obama off the hook either, pointing out how horrendously he handled the situation when he finally decided to visit Flint. Moore even points a finger back at himself, showing a great clip during which he was a guest on Roseanne Barr’s show with, believe it or not, Donald Trump. He played along with the Trump routine then, as so many did in the years before he became President. Moore’s point is that we all knew who Trump was, we just didn’t seem to care.

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