A review of “Fahrenheit 9/11” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: Not Rated, but should be PG-13 for graphic images and language

Run Time: 2 hours

 

 

The buzz is huger than huge: a twenty minute standing ovation at Cannes (the longest in the history of that venerable fest), a surprise Palme d’Or win, and a consortium of distributors banding together so the American public can see the controversial film for itself.  Is Fahrenheit 9/11 worthy of its hype?

Yes, indeed.  Michael Moore has developed into a spirited and disciplined documentarian, proffering his damning exposé of George W. Bush with artful skill and more than a little je ne sais quoi.

Moore’s condemnation is swift and relentless, albeit rather skewed in his proletarian favor.  Beginning with the 2000 Election snafu and moving into the early days of Bush’s presidency, Moore lays the ammunition on thick.  Our “lame duck president” was on vacation for approximately forty-two percent of his first eight months in office.  When the chips were down, George W. went fishing.

It all comes to a bitter head when jet planes crash into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.  The infamous footage of Bush reading My Pet Goat to a group of Florida kindergartners when he’s informed of the second attack is terribly distressing.  Watching our country’s elected leader sit deer-in-the-headlights for interminable minutes without a clue of how to respond does little to inspire confidence in our fair-haired government.

Ties with Saudi oil companies, warm-fuzzies with Taliban officials and the Bin Laden family, the censoring of military records and 9/11 investigation reports, disenfranchised servicemen asking “why?”; it’s not looking good for our Prez.

The evidence is disheartening and seriously sobering, packaged in Moore’s in-your-face, Johnny-on-the-spot style.   Kitschy one-hit wonders and pop tunes set to footage of the Bush clan glad-handing the Saudis lend humor to the horror.  In Moore’s hands even vile corruption can be side-splittingly funny. 

It’s difficult to separate the message from the movie. Incendiary propaganda?  Yes, but Moore manages to sidestep his trademark grandstanding in the name of provocateur journalism and the dawn of resolution.  Underneath an overwhelming aura of unease lies a glimmer hope, for change and a chance for our country to right its wrongs before it’s too late.