You've Been Trumped: Film Review

You've Been Trumped Still - H 2012

You've Been Trumped Still - H 2012

Underdogs stand their ground in Anthony Baxter's modest but revealing doc.

Conflicts remain unresolved in the saga of Donald Trump's mammoth golf resort in Scotland.

Catching Donald Trump in instances of bullying and mendacity that are brazen even by Trumpian standards, Anthony Baxter's blood-boiling You've Been Trumped chronicles the mogul's destruction of a beautiful Scottish seaside to make way for what he gloats will be the "world's best golf resort." The villain's overpromoted brand name surely will help the film find more viewers than the average David-vs.-Goliath doc.

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Baxter, in his filmmaking debut, comes across as a local who couldn't sit idly by as Trump steamrolled his neighbors. He starts his film in 2010, after Trump's billion-dollar plans for Aberdeenshire already have cleared many hurdles: Rejected by local authorities and environmental groups, the development eventually found support in the Scottish government, which threatened to force homeowners to sell generations-old homesteads.

Knowing colorful underdogs when he sees them, Baxter spends time with a kindly old woman whose father was a "prize plougher"; a music-industry vet whose history with The Clash primes him for class conflict; and Michael Forbes, the prickly farmer who becomes a symbol of the unkempt working-class realities Trump intends to wipe off the horizon. Forbes "lives like a pig," Trump charmingly tells reporters, arguing that his "slumlike, disgusting" farmhouse is so offensive to the views from his planned hotel rooms that the government should force him to vacate. (The tycoon also is offended by a proposed offshore wind farm, but that's another matter.)

In the course of chronicling the struggle between residents and developers, Baxter is himself bullied: His pointed but polite questions are mocked at press conferences; in one scene, police -- behaving more like private security goons than public servants -- manhandle him and put him under arrest for a few hours.

More galling is what happens to those who refuse to leave their land: Water and electrical services are sabotaged, bulldozers build mountains of earth to block seaside views, and property is damaged and stolen, with dubious boundary claims as justification.

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Baxter chooses not to put this years-long episode in a wider context: Rather than comparing it to other development controversies or interviewing the lawmakers who've taken Trump's side, he uses recurring clips of 1983's Local Hero to (unnecessarily) drive home his theme of wealth versus community. He also lacks finesse: His snarky title and melodramatic use of sound effects belie his efforts to let the realities of the story speak for themselves.

But You've Been Trumped turns our attention to the ugly truths behind a real estate empire's tacky gleam and reminds us that, unlike the reality-show contestants who'll do anything not to be "fired," not all those who face Donald Trump's bullying have submitted to it voluntarily.

Production Company: Montrose Pictures
Director-Editor-Director of photography: Anthony Baxter
Screenwriters: Richard Phinney, Anthony Baxter
Producer: Richard Phinney
Music: Jonny Pilcher, Jonsi, Sigur Ros
No rating, 100 minutes.