Filmmaker Michael Moore explored the controversial presidency of George W. Bush with his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. To this day the film still remains the highest grossing documentary of all time. Moore returns once again to the presidency of the United States with the equally scathing Fahrenheit 11/9 which tackles the Trump era as well as the political upheaval that has gone hand in hand alongside it. It’s an overstuffed documentary that presents some good ideas, but needs to be condensed into something more digestible.
Fahrenheit 11/9 attempts to explain how Donald Trump was elected president while simultaneously looking at both the Flint Water Crisis and the 2018 West Virginia teachers strike. There’s a lot going on in this documentary and in typical Michael Moore fashion, he isn’t afraid of padding it out with random tangents that don’t necessarily go anywhere other than to say, “Hey, it’s me, Michael Moore and you’re watching my movie!” He does do a good job at framing the story, highlight both how ridiculous and scary the situation is.
You can’t help but laugh at the way he edits Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” into the opening scene as it cuts back and forth between Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s parties on election night. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking. Moore can crack a joke one minute, and then be absolutely serious the next and make you truly think deeply about something as devastating as Flint’s water crisis. It’s a testament to just how good a storyteller he can be. At the same time, however, there’s way too much story in this film.
At roughly two hours in length, Fahrenheit 11/9 can be an exhausting film to watch. I believe that mostly stems from the fact that everything he presents is still so very recent in most people’s memory. The election happened only two years ago. The teacher strike was less than seven months ago. The water crisis is still ongoing. Do we really need to watch a documentary on these things when we’re still living them? He does provide some interesting insight into how we got to where we are and what it may take in order to fix some of our political problems.
It’s far from perfect, but there are still a lot of elements I enjoyed from Fahrenheit 11/9. It’s very much a Michael Moore documentary, if that’s your cup of tea. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or revealing about it as Moore goes big for shock value. It’s fine as an entertainment piece, but I doubt it’ll do much to actually force any sort of change.