Following hot on the heels of Michael Moore’s TrumpLand film, that premiered the week before last, British filmmaker Anthony Baxter has effectively finished of his Donald Trump movie trilogy with You’ve Been Trumped Too. Inevitably threatened by lawyers acting for the American presidential candidate, the film made it into distribution courtesy of a last minute crowdfunding campaign. It premiered widely on Facebook yesterday.
It’s a piece of work that accepts many won’t have caught up with You’ve Been Trumped and A Dangerous Game, Baxter’s earlier documentaries that in turn focused on Donald Trump building a golf course against the wishes of residents and environmentalists, and then a broader look at the golf industry, centred around a face to face interview with Trump himself.
Baxter, as he admits, is no longer on Trump’s good side, and so there’s no new interview access for You’ve Been Trumped Too, and inevitably, that makes the argument that runs through his film pretty one-sided. That doesn’t make it any less compelling, though, but it does leave a notable gap.
A good chunk of what you get is recap, as Baxter takes us back to Balmedie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where five years on from the construction of Trump’s course, he finds unresolved problems. The promised thousands of new jobs, he reckons, add up to under 100 now. And more worryingly, he catches up with 91-year old Molly and Michael Forbes, who – years after the course was constructed – still don’t have clean running water to their homes. The supply was interrupted during the construction of the course, and still awaits a satisfactory remedy.
The to-camera material with the Forbes’ will be familiar to those who saw Baxter’s preceding two features (as will Trump’s dismissive comments about them), but it’s no less effective. They see themselves as collateral damage in Trump’s land grab, and Baxter frequently splits his screen to posit them against speeches that assorted Trumps have delivered, and promises they’ve made. It’s an effective approach.
If there’s a frustration here, then Baxter’s film doesn’t break quite as much new ground as his previous features, and he’s inevitably hampered by his lack of access. There’s plenty of material from his previous discussions with Donald Trump and particularly Donald Trump Jr, but no fresh face to face. Not for the want of trying: the sheer pluck of the man, standing in the midst of a pro-Trump rally asking difficult, but ignored, questions should be admired.
What’s perhaps most surprising and shocking is how little has changed between the end of the first film and the start of the third. It’s here where Baxter keeps landing punches, and when he arrives in the town of Flint, you can’t help but draw a further parallel between him and one of its most famous sons, Michael Moore. Just as with Moore’s film, You’ve Been Trumped Too presents a lot of what you already know well, and as a consequence is far more likely to play to the people who probably least need to see it. But unlike TrumpLand, come the end, Baxter lands some heavier blows, that in effect bring the story he’s been reporting on close to full circle.
It’s a compelling documentary, this. It’s a little scattergun, one minute following Donald Trump around America, the next back in Scotland listening to Molly Forbes discussing what she has to go through just to get water for a wash. But Baxter knows what he’s doing. He might sometimes tie things together with very thin string, but the heart of the film is his impassioned desire to get truth, and to help a community. By the abrupt ending, it’s not clear he’s fully done that, but his film is compelling, and his desire to shine as much light as possible on this segment of the Trump story to be commended.
And the moment where Michael Forbes stands in a Cleveland bar, listening to Donald Trump accepting the Republican presidential nomination is really quite haunting. It’s the really human moments such as this that linger the longest.
Find out more about the film, and how to see it, here.