You've Been Trumped Review

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Score

A weak take down of Donald Trump's recent Scottish invasion that's light on hard facts and far too cosy for its own good.

Molly Forbes stirs her tatties, flashing a warm, wrinkly smile to camera before heading outside to tend to her chickens. "How many eggs do you get a day?" director Anthony Baxter asks. "Oh, sometimes two," replies Molly. "Sometimes one... Sometimes none."

If you're hankering for a politically-loaded human interest story that's underpinned by idle small talk instead of hard facts, look no further than You've Been Trumped, a piss weak take down of America's foremost aborted muskrat-iced corporate chunderfuck, Donald Trump, and his recent(ish) proposal to build a luxury golf resort on a pristine stretch of Aberdeenshire coastline.

The project is a worthy subject for a defamatory exposé and an easy target, not least because it's fronted by a fire-spitting, V-sign flipping tycoon who publicly sneers at the "slum-like" living conditions of the cornfed locals whose homes he's about to destroy. But Baxter arrives on the scene too late to take action; construction is already well underway by the time his camcorder starts rolling. So what's a doc maker to do?

Baxter's rather disappointing answer is to recycle clips from Bill Forsythe's 1983 charmer Local Hero while vehemently demonising Trump at every turn by fading in generic Imperial March-esque music whenever his blacked-out Range Rover convoy creeps into view.

By contrast Molly, her son Michael and the small number of resilient fisher folk who simply refuse to budge are painted not as the crusty NIMBYists the regional press have labelled them, but a collective allegory for the liberal war against capitalism. The reality is they are neither, just a laid back bunch who've been cut adrift by their government.

The closer Baxter gets to them – the more he dramatises this ongoing David versus Goliath saga – the further he strays from answering some fundamental questions. Who, for example, was responsible for giving a Site of Scientific Interest a price tag? What are the long-term social, environmental and economic ramifications of Trump International Golf Links? And is Trump's model for a sustainable ecosystem at all viable?

Being denied access to the Trump Organization and the council members who paved the way for the deal makes Baxter's job more difficult to a point (although it's unlikely either would deviate from the company line), but shot after shot of swaying Marram grass manipulatively cut to the elfin hymns of Sigur Rós is a poor substitute for thorough investigatory fieldwork.

View 6 comments

AndrewC

2 years ago
That still doesn't explain or justify the marking down. By the same token, "This is Not a Film" would have been slated for not going into investigative detail about the Iranian government's dealings with film-makers. Showing the effects of corporate bullies' actions on individuals is a good way to expose them, as is ridicule. Both methods were effectively deployed here. Normally LWL reserves '1' scores for truly awful films. There seems to me to be no reasonable case to treat this as one of them.

a dune lover

2 years ago
Well, you got that wrong. The popular view is that Donald Trump is a bully, his project is an environmental disaster, the economic case will not be proved, and his golf development will be a flop. Alex Salmond made friends with a slippery snake when he sucked up to Donald Trump. Well, they have fallen out now about a proposed wind farm development - which is the perfect excuse for Trump to stop pouring money into a fiscal black hole.

This was a watchable, stirring documentary looking at the plight of some ordinary folk who live in an extraordinary place. And it will be difficult to promote because vested interests will not allow it.

Adam LWLies

2 years ago
"Donald Trump is a bully, his project is an environmental disaster, the economic case will not be proved, and his golf development will be a flop."

Can't argue with that. I do prefer my investigative docs to askanswer more questions than this one, though. As opposed to metaphorically photoshopping devil horns on its antagonist.

Not to stoke the fire too much, but what exactly is "extraordinary" about the place?

AndrewC

2 years ago
I really cannot understand this sour and ill-informed review at all - I have just come from a cinema showing of the film, at which a full house burst into prolonged and spontaneous applause (in which I joined) at the end - twice, in fact, both before and after the credits had rolled. It simply doesn't seem as if the reviewer understood the difference between a documentary which hadn't been planned for, and which was only precipitated by the director's arrest on a (yes!) trumped-up charge of breach of the peace for daring to venture on to the dunes which were already being ripped apart by the bulldozers, and a nice cosily plotted and financed film designed to entertain picky - and, dare one say it, London-based - critics. Yes, there are failings if the latter was expected - but that would be to miss the entire point of it all. I think the film is a superbly made indictment of Trump and all he stands for, including the suborning of government, police, local authorities and universities; with the extra benefit that much of it is done from their own mouths. Given the huge difficulties that were overcome to make this film (not excepting the financing of it), I think it is a triumph and the '1' scores seem to me to be incomprehensible.

Adam LWLies

2 years ago
I haven't missed the point. My issue is not with the film's subject (I happento agree with its anti-Trump sentiment) but the cosiness of the filmmaker's seemingly impromptu allegiance with the residents fighting to save their homes.

Margaret G

2 years ago
I spoke briefly with the filmmaker in 2010 at the Menie March featured in the film and have since followed (obsessively) the film's progress. I have seen the film four times in different venues in Scotland and the audiences have been overwhelmingly supportive. I have seen no other film that has received a standing ovation or round of applause on each occasion. Molly Forbes is 87 year residents and I find your description of her of her 'flashing a warm, wrinkly smile ' offensive. Given the popularity of this film , your low rating is ludicrous and indeed is the only dissenting voice amongst countless worldwide reviews
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