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Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ Reviews

Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ Reviews

The first reviews for Donald Trump movie The Apprentice are in, following its world premiere at Cannes.

Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabriel Sherman, the film follows Sebastian Stan’s Trump during his rise to power in 1980s America, as he’s mentored by firebrand right-wing attorney Roy Cohn, played by Succession star Jeremy Strong.

The cast also includes Borat Subsequent Moviefilm star Maria Bakalova as Ivana Trump and Martin Donavan as the former president’s father Fred Trump Sr.

The movie, which currently doesn’t have a U.S. distributor, holds a 69 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of Tuesday.

Though the Trump campaign has threatened to sue over the film, Abbasi offered to screen the movie for the former president and talk about it with him, saying, “I don’t necessarily think that this is a movie he would dislike.”

“Everybody talks about him suing a lot of people,” he added. “They don’t talk about his success rate though, you know?”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s chief film critic David Rooney notes that while Abbasi’s inclusion of showing Trump undergoing liposuction and a hair transplant in “in queasy detail at a grave moment for someone close to him” might be “considered a cheap shot,” “that kind of disconnect from anyone else’s suffering is a key part of the portrait. What Abassi’s film reveals most of all is the extent to which the toxicity that’s now an inescapable part of our contemporary reality was shaped by the unholy alliance between two men half a century ago.”

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw writes that Trump “will not be the smallest bit worried by this genially ironic, lenient TV movie-style treatment of his early adventures in ’70s landlordism, property and tabloid celebrity,” adding that Abbasi’s take on the tycoon-turned-president feels like a “cartoon Xeroxed from many other satirical Trump takes and knowing prophetic echoes of his political future.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Maher at The Sunday Times of London has a more positive reaction to the film, calling it the “Donald Trump movie that you never knew you needed: full of compassionate feeling yet ruthless in analysis.” He applauds Stan’s performance as Trump, writing, “It is difficult to overstate how nuanced Stan is here and how his portrait of Trump evolves in physical gestures and familiar mannerisms (saying ‘loser’) without becoming an Alec Baldwin-style caricature.”

Maher also has high praise for Strong’s portrayal as Cohn, noting that the actor “is extraordinary, employing his unblinking hangdog stare and coiled intensity to devastating effect.”

Tara Brady at The Irish Times also commends Stan for “incorporating Trump’s mannerisms without slipping into parody.” However, comparing it to Abbasi’s previous work, she noted that the film “lacks the gravitas or impact” of his earlier films, “but it’s a pleasant enough doodle thanks to Stan, Strong and a lot of period wigs.”

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The Playlist‘s Rafa Sales Ross marvels over Abbasi’s ability to “thread the lines between tabloid fodder and veiled endorsement with great skill. There’s a running comic vein throughout the film that flirts with mockery while bypassing the pastiche, like when the camera catches a glimpse of an empty-brained Donald as he sits alone at the big boys’ table, with no big boys to play with or when the broad man bumps into the slim, cool Andy Warhol at a party he has no business being in, his inaptitude making him feel smaller and smaller while his ego begins showing the first signs of inflation.”

She also notes that Stan and Strong’s performances are a “great match,” writing that Strong plays Cohn “with a pained reticence that is at once greatly moving and deeply effective in its understanding of how the illness affects the dynamic between the duo.” Cohn, who was a closeted gay man, died from AIDS in 1986.

Tim Grierson at Screen Daily writes that Stan “does a remarkably subtle job at capturing Trump’s mannerism and facial tics — the pursed lips, the jerky hand gestures, the cocked head meant to convey toughness — while keeping the character appropriately life-sized.” However, he pointed out that overall, Abbasi “struggles to find a compelling arc in Trump’s ascension. There is some grim fascination to watching an irredeemable egomaniac knock down every obstacle blocking his path. But Trump’s heedless quest never lends itself to deeper revelations about the mogul, nor does it suggest how he symbolizes the dark side of so-called American exceptionalism.”

To Grierson, The Apprentice “ends up dramatically flat, the recitation of Trump’s most infamous incidents — including Ivana Trump’s charge her husband raped her (an accusation she later disavowed) — playing out perfunctorily.”

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