Trump Film Debuts at Cannes, and Campaign Vows to Sue

'The Apprentice' gets an 11-minute standing ovation at the film festival
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2024 6:41 AM CDT
Updated May 25, 2024 1:00 PM CDT
Trump Film Debuts at Cannes, and Campaign Vows to Sue
Sebastian Stan, from left, director Ali Abbasi, and Maria Bakalova pose at the photo call for 'The Apprentice' at the Cannes film festival in France. Stan plays Trump in the movie and Bakalova plays Ivana Trump.   (Photo by Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP)

One of the biggest movie debuts at the Cannes film festival Monday evening was The Apprentice, which tells the tale of a young Donald Trump rising to power in New York City in the 1980s.

  • Lawsuit threat: Directed by Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi, the film is a "scathing portrait" that centers on Trump's relationship with notorious fixer Roy Cohn, reports the AP. How scathing? The Trump campaign already is vowing to sue, reports Deadline. "This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked," says Steven Cheung of the campaign.
  • Volatile scene: Among other things, the film depicts Trump (played by Sebastian Stan) raping his wife, Ivana Trump (Maria Bakalova), reports Variety. Ivana Trump made the allegation in a 1990 divorce deposition but later said she did not mean it literally. It also depicts Trump getting liposuction and a hair transplant, details that apparently come from the same deposition, per the Washington Post. The movie version of Trump also pops amphetamines, notes Rolling Stone.

  • Angry investor: Billionaire Dan Snyder, a financial investor in the film and a Trump supporter, was said to be furious when he saw a cut in February because he thought it was going to be flattering, reports Variety. The outlet adds that "cease-and-desist letters began flying" on behalf of Snyder, who had invested via the production company Kinematics.
  • Strong reception: Deadline reports the film got an 11-minute standing ovation at Cannes. Afterward, Abbasi told the audience, "There is no nice metaphorical way to deal with the rising wave of fascism," per the AP. "It's time to make movies political again." The movie has no release date yet in the US.
  • Reviews: They're largely flattering of the film and its cast. It's "a spirited, entertaining, and not overly cheeky docudrama," writes Owen Gleiberman at Variety, though he thinks it fails to crack the mystery of why Trump came to be the man he is today. David Rooney at the Hollywood Reporter writes that Stan and Jeremy Strong, who portrays Cohn, are particularly potent. "Stan's Trump is not a clown but a vicious 'killer,' as the character categorizes his ambition," writes Jada Yuan in the Washington Post.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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