Michael Moore in Trumpland
With his country just days away from perhaps the most divisive presidential election in its history, and with polls suggesting that a contest long thought to be a walk in the park for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton is likely to go right to the wire, liberal agitator Michael Moore felt compelled to take emergency action. Foregoing his usual filmmaking methodology of meticulous research and careful selection from reels of documentary footage, Moore ventured into the dragon’s lair of the Donald Trump-supporting Midwest to address those on the opposite side of the political divide directly from a lectern on stage at the Murphy Theatre in Wilmington Ohio.
As a theatrical event, it was something of a flawed concept. Though the marquee sign outside explicitly stated that Trump supporters were welcome within, the demographic reality of Moore’s appeal ensured that, for the most part, he was preaching to the left-wing choir. The Michigan native’s vision stretched beyond the auditorium, however, and his 40-minute monologue, rush-released to cinemas and TV screens across America and beyond, has the singular intention of dissuading those thinking of placing an “X” in the box marked Donald J Trump on 8th November.
Despite the show’s title, and in contrast to the director’s favoured tactic (stretching back nearly 20 years to his TV show The Awful Truth) for skewering the egos of capitalist blowhards of Trump’s ilk with humorous mockery, his approach here is markedly urban, placing the focus squarely on Hillary Clinton. Speaking in a frank and personable manner from in front of a screen displaying photographs of the Democratic candidate from her days as a doe-eyed and idealistic young student of Yale, Moore expresses sympathy for the mindset of potential Trump voters, and seeks to both understand, and address, their concerns with Mrs Clinton. While the tone does veer toward the saccharine at times (with lingering shots of watery-eyed onlookers reacting to tales of Clinton’s lifelong campaign for gender equality), America has an undeniably higher threshold for such things. The occasional flash of Moore the firebrand adds balance, with a darkly funny riposte to murderous accusations from the more outlandish of conservative conspiracy theorists a real highlight.
Though its unconventional format, and the fact that it will be utterly obsolete by this time next week, make it a somewhat awkward entry into the filmmaker’s cinematic catalogue, there is much to be admired in Michael Moore in Trumpland. As a valiant last-ditch effort to haul America back from a terrifying precipice, it demands immediate attention.
Photo: Genevieve Jacobson
Michael Moore in Trumpland is available on demand in the UK now.