When news broke on Tuesday that Michael Moore would be debuting a surprise Donald Trump-themed film in New York City that very evening, social media lit up with speculation about what the controversial documentarian had in store just in time for the U.S. election.
But those who lined up around the block from the city’s IFC Center for the sneak premiere of "Michael Moore in TrumpLand" didn’t exactly get what they’ve come to expect from the director of such films as "Roger & Me" and "Bowling for Columbine" (although, with mere hours notice, it’s not like they had much time to hypothesize.)
The film, which was shot 11 days ago, is simply the recorded version of Moore’s recent one-man stage show that he’s been presenting in Ohio, wherein he channels the dejected working-class citizen from those states that could still swing to Trump.
And while viewers may have been anticipating an unabashed charge of sorts against Trump (akin to the provocative anti-Trump missives Moore has released in recent months), what they got was more of a political love letter to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Over the course of 73 minutes, Moore spends far more time building Clinton up (although he does offer his misgivings) than he does tearing Trump down; surmising that if Clinton is elected, she could very well turn out to be, as Owen Gleiberman of Variety puts it: "a revolutionary snuck in through the Trojan Horse of mainstream politics…a paragon of tough liberal sainthood."
That said, response to the film has been mixed.
“TrumpLand is a fascinating document, but undeniably awkward in presentation,” writes Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian, who gives the show three stars.
“For all his good intentions, Moore’s unique blend of greasy palmed populism and hard-left truthbombs isn’t what it takes to get a Trump voter to turn his or her dormant brain back on. The movie also takes a good long while to find its rhythm, which is very much a problem when it’s only got a 73-minute running time.”
Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times argues that “Mr. Moore has basically made an earnest but not very entertaining pro-Clinton campaign film… But if the film doesn’t shock or enrage, it is accidentally revelatory.”
Initial reviews on Twitter have been similarly mixed. From the supportive:
Inspiring background to cause for, and impressive creation of, Moore’s amazing film for Hillary https://t.co/mISMclk1qo— IT. IS. A. COUP. (@EAGLEjme) October 19, 2016
To the enraged:
To, perhaps, the realistic:
Easy prediction: Michael Moore's new film will reach/move absolutely zero persons. Everyone is still too locked in to their perspective side— Mustafa Rashed (@mustafarashed) October 19, 2016
'Michael Moore in TrumpLand' is now open for a week in New York and Los Angeles and will be soon available on iTunes.