Relevant take on corporate greed
About 15 minutes into the documentary You've Been Trumped, I experienced the most peculiar and unexpected sensation.
The early parts of British filmmaker Anthony Baxter's movie about the controversial development of Donald Trump's golf course near Aberdeen, Scotland are so biased against the ludicrously coiffed New York billionaire, I actually started feeling sympathy for the guy.
As Baxter introduces us to the planned course's stressed out neighbours, it becomes abundantly clear that, as far as he is concerned, they are good and Trump is evil.
Baxter presents the locals with the kind of affection Sir Peter Jackson reserves for hobbits.
In fact, thinking about it, they actually reminded me of hobbits.
Baxter introduces them in their homes and we get to hear their families' stories and see old homemade movies of their salt-of-the-earth parents.
We even get to meet their chickens.
When Trump arrives on the scene we see him from a distance turning up in a line of black Range Rovers.
The music switches from quaint to something loosely reminiscent of the theme from Jaws.
Now, I've never understood Trump's appeal and I think golf is lame. I also resent the way golf course developers turn perfectly lovely corners of the globe into places resembling Teletubby-land, so it came as something of a shock to find myself feeling for Trump.
As things transpired, I needn't have worried because by the end of the film it had become abundantly clear that, unlike the locals, Trump is an unlikable and vain bully who appears to enjoy an ambiguous relationship with the truth.
In fact, the longer You've Been Trumped runs, the more you appreciate why Baxter must have felt compelled to stick it to the property magnate.
You've Been Trumped recalls the work of Michael Moore except unlike the maker of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, Baxter isn't interested in making himself the centre of the story. The narration-free doco is occasionally heavy-handed and frequently sentimental but Baxter does a top job of demonstrating how Scotland's establishment, the police included, quickly became Trump's lapdogs and let him literally bulldoze his project through, despite howls of protest from the residents and a range of experts including respected environmentalists, scientists and an academic at the London School of Economics.
You've Been Trumped paints an ugly picture of both corporate greed and the way people suck up to the rich and famous.
It leaves some important questions answered; questions like: who sold Trump the land in the first place? It also fails to mention that, in the end, the golf course got built.
Baxter's decision to include scenes from the 1983 film Local Hero, that was set in the same part of Scotland, without explaining the connection, also does not work.
You've Been Trumped does, however, make compelling and entertaining viewing and in a country like ours, where the Government sees no problem in changing labour laws to suit US tycoons, it's also incredibly relevant.
- The Marlborough Express