out of Five
Running time: 97
Well made, RAGE-inducing documentary that gives a vital airing to a virtually unheard side of a truly sickening story, but it's also thoroughly depressing to watch and you can't help wishing Baxter had tried harder to confront the people responsible.
What's it all about?
Directed by Anthony Baxter, You've Been Trumped sets out its stall early with some clips from Bill Forsythe's 1983 drama Local Hero, in which Scottish residents successfully prevent an American billionaire from buying up their idyllic coastline. Unfortunately, real life doesn't quite work that way and the rest of the film charts the local resistance to American billionaire Donald Trump as he bulldozes ahead with his plan to build two beachside golf courses, a hotel and luxury apartments on the Menie Estate, a supposedly protected Site of Special Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire.
Baxter is firmly on the side of the residents, each of whom has faced the threat of Compulsory Purchase Orders and who have had their cases roundly ignored by both the police and local government officials. Worse, with the SNP government overturning Aberdeenshire Council's rejection of Trump's plans in 2007 (swayed by Trump's promises of local jobs and a tourism boost), it becomes shockingly clear that the authorities and the media (who help demonise the residents rather than taking up their cause) are essentially colluding with Trump or at the very least, wilfully ignoring the plight of the residents.
When Trump backs down over the Compulsory Purchase Orders (one of the film's few victories), his organisation resorts to other, dirtier tricks instead, whether it's “accidentally” cutting off the water to a property (or at any rate deliberately dragging their heels when it comes to restoring it), trying to make residents pay extortionate fees after they remove fence posts from their own properties, or, as a seeming last resort, hiding the residents' houses from view by bulldozing huge mounds of earth all around them.
The film becomes even more shocking when the Trump organisation eventually get wind of Baxter's presence (and the fact that he's armed the local residents with video cameras) and he's forcefully arrested, just for attempting to talk to the site contractor about the water issue. On top of that, the environmental damage recorded by the residents is truly devastating: at one point, a digger is shown burying an entire line of trees in an enormous hole in the ground, while the area's self-sustaining eco-system of sand dunes is utterly destroyed, despite Trump's claims to the contrary.
While strong on local voices, Baxter is weaker on the behind-the-scenes wrangling and you can't help wishing for a more aggressive Michael Moore type figure to magically appear and confront the people responsible for this shocking decision in the first place.
You’ve Been Trumped is an important and shocking documentary that demands to be seen, but it will also leave you feeling depressed, powerless and consumed with RAGE. Down with Trump.