Michael Moore says progressives are America’s last hope

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Fahrenheit 11/9
Opens Friday 21

3 out of 5

While I respect Michael Moore’s consistency and willingness to go against the powers-that-be, even I must acknowledge  less-than-savoury trademarks: the need to put himself front and center and a tendency to fudge facts to support his thesis.

Both elements are in Fahrenheit 11/9 — a sequel to the 2004 smash Fahrenheit 9/11 — but Moore’s subject is so important he may just deserve a pass.

In his characteristic freewheeling style, Moore digs into some of America’s most depressing developments (school shootings, the rise of white-supremacist movements, disregard for the environment). The water crisis in Flint — where a Donald Trump-like “entrepreneur” is getting away with poisoning an entire urban population­ — is given special attention. The director sees Flint a trial balloon, an indicator of how far you can push the public without repercussions. Turns out, pretty far.

While Fahrenheit 11/9 — the title date refers to Donald Trump’s election — includes a well-documented comparison between Hitler’s rise to power and Trump’s, the orange menace is treated not as the problem but the consequence of decades of undermined democracy. Two unexpected targets in the film are Democratic leaders (hard at work taming the progressives within their party) and Barack Obama, whose behaviour during the Flint water crisis was… less than uplifting.

Ever the optimist, Michael Moore argues that America’s best hope are grassroots liberal movements like the one that won democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an upset victory in a 2018 New York primary and mobilized millions of students against gun violence. That said, Moore stops short of arguing victory is inevitable (as he’s done in the past). There’s real fear that gives the film an edge and makes it stronger than just preaching to the choir.