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It doesn’t take a hectoring Michael Moore or patronizing Dinesh D’Souza to properly account for “what happened” and “who these people are, and why” they supported Donald Trump. It turns out Trump supporters, “in their own words,” is the most damning portrait of them imaginable.
[Stern] comes across as a sincere presence who is almost too polite and doesn’t challenge some interviewees who make wildly inaccurate and sometimes racist assertions based on ignorant viewpoints. But it could be argued his gentle, respectful style of an effective tool to get his subjects to reveal their true selves.
The New York Times
It was a prescient plan. Mr. Stern, a longtime Democrat, vowed to listen closely, and he seems to have kept his word. Though he doesn’t mask his expressions — usually astounded, though never mocking — he’s a genial interviewer, empathic, he says, even if he can’t be sympathetic.
Los Angeles Times
While an argument can be made for it being either “too late” or “too soon,” James D. Stern’s American Chaos nevertheless serves as a handy look back on the poll-defying perfect storm that cleared Donald Trump’s path to the White House.
Ultimately, American Chaos isn’t bad, it’s just kind of too late to do any real good.
The Hollywood Reporter
Stern's melancholy on election night in 2016 is genuinely affecting, but despite some incisive footage en route to the depressing conclusion, the film ultimately leaves us feeling that the director has become a little too close to his subjects to probe as deeply as our national chaos requires
San Francisco Chronicle
Throughout the film, we always feel ahead — way ahead — of the narrator, even if the movie does contain a certain sense of dread for Trump detractors, as the inevitability of the election draws closer.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
Stern pledges to just listen rather than argue, and though what he hears is often bonkers and wholly unsupported by facts, he has compassion, at least for those who are not nakedly racist.
“Chaos” might have been better had the filmmaker revisited his interview subjects now that we are deep into Trump’s presidency. But that would have required additional work. If the film is a testament to anything, it’s Stern’s laziness.
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