Film Review: AMERICAN CHAOS (USA 2017) ***

American Chaos Poster

A man searches for answers to Donald Trump’s widespread support before the 2016 presidential election.


James D. Stern

How did Trump win and Hilary lose the Presidential election?  More than half the world were initially in disbelief.  Writer/director James Stern’s documentary AMERICAN CHAOS aims to provide the answers while providing audiences with a bit of entertainment as well.

The film contains an excellent introduction sequence that sets the stage of exactly what is to be expected from the documentary –  a biased Democrat look at their sad victory of Donald J. Trump as the President of the United States.  The first images shown on screen are black and white, grainy footage of previous Presidents of the United States from Roosevelt to Kennedy to Nixon and finally to Trump.  Stern introduces himself then as a man born and obsessed into politics from the Democrats point of view and a true citizen of Chicago.  He cannot believe that Trump would win and informs the audience the purpose of the movie – to travel around the U.S. to meet and greet the Trump supporters to find the reason for their loyalty.  Coming from a Democrat, one can expect a totally biased view and perhaps occasionally sarcastic presentation of events, but to be fair to the man, he does let the supporters have their say and the documentary does offer two differing points of view.  So, for which side one would take – one can be rest assured in the words of the Gregory Peck character of the black defendant lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Atticus Finch, true democracy is illustrated to one who inhabits the skin of the opposition to see and feel from his (or her) point of view.

The doc is set during the six months leading up to the election. Stern’s travels took him 

from Trump’s adopted home state of Florida, to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland (where he circumvented tight security to find thousands chanting “build a wall” and “lock her up”) and back to Florida for the election.  

On the plus side of Trump reporters, one of the most convincing episodes involves Stern’s camera taking the audience to the Mexican and U.S. border where a seasoned border patrolman complains of his job of keeping illegal Mexican aliens out.  His patrol car has to cover miles and miles of border.  The seemingly ridiculous wall that Trump suggests makes sense to these people living at the border.  Americans there claim they need their weapons to be safe and are against gun control. Stern’s doc makes himself and the audience see the other point of view.

There is a big correlation between the reasons of the pro-Trump Americans and the pro-Brexit Brits, as pointed out in the film.  It is so true, as I never myself, expected the Brits to want to exit the E.U.  I spoke to the Brits in London during the Brexit and discovered that the working class that voted for it were really fed up and had enough of politicians who sat on their butts and did nothing.  They would do anything to prove these politicians wrong.  And same ca be said for the pro-Trump Americans who have their say in this doc.  They are fed up with Hilary and these people in power who expect to win and want them to be de-throned regardless of consequences.  A pastor even said on camera that God uses bad Kings as well as good Kings, and he voted Trump to be President and not his Sunday school teacher.

AMERICAN CHAOS breaks no new grounds in departments of musical score, cinematography or editing but it is still a powerful film in a quiet sort of way.



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