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Cannes 2024: we saw a biopic on Donald Trump, between Scarface and The Wolf of Wall Street

The apprentice : the rise of Donald Trump

What an amazing project for Ali Abbasi to undertake a portrait of Donald Trump, when we see what precedes it. The Iranian director stood out Confine (2018), Swedish fantasy film about a customs officer with extraordinary skills, before directing The nights of Mashhad (2022), a tense thriller about a prostitute killer in Iran. Change of atmosphere then with The apprentice that takes us on a journey America in the 70smore precisely in a New York on the verge of bankruptcy and which the young Trump would like to take advantage of.

Visually, Ali Abbasi adopts an era-specific television style, using a 4:3 aspect ratio and a handheld camera to capture the life of Donald Trump in an almost documentary way. There is certainly something quite impersonal in his approach, but the result remains at the level of expectations.

A man modeled by Roy Cohn

We thus discover Donald Trump still at the bottom of the bourgeois ladder, despite his family’s wealth. With his father’s business threatened by the government – which accuses the Trumps of renting apartments only to whites – Donald will appeal Roy Cohn, a ruthless lawyer who can boast of never having lost a trial. He is the one who will be Donald Trump’s mentor especially instilling in him three rules : Always fight back, never admit you’re wrong, and never consider yourself a loser. As soon as these rules are mentioned, we can already glimpse the President Trump we know today and the statements he may have made throughout his career.

Sebastien Stan - The Apprentice
Sebastien Stan – The Apprentice

But before he reaches the top of the United States, Donald will have to learn alongside Roy, played by Jeremy Fortein his element as The apprentice can remember the series Succession – in which he plays. The actor allows himself to make boxes of them, sort of meeting between Al Pacino and Nicolas Sarkozy for an extremely fun result. Let’s also think about Wolf of Wall Street (2013)in the tone, in the rhythm, in certain production choices (the use of music known as Yes sir I can dance by Baccarat) and in Trump’s transformation, similar to that of Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s film. The interpretation of Sebastiano Stan he’s at a very high level, the actor keeps him from doing too much.

The Tony Montana of real estate

However, by showing the origins of Donald Trump, the man he was before becoming the billionaire and politician we know, The apprentice runs the risk of making it too human. Almost understanding, or at least empathetic. In fact, we discover a young man eager to succeed and who carries the weight of his father. A boy who has ideas and would like the chance to make them come true. But he doesn’t make any mistakes. This empathy for this character is not that far from what we can have for Tony Montana in the first part of Scarface (1984)when he was still just a petty criminal, a Cuban refugee, who dreams of nothing more than having his hands in shit.

As in Brian De Palma’s film, the most important thing is inside the displacement of the protagonist. And as for Tony Montana, Donald Trump’s change manifests itself both physically and in his relationship with his wife. After confiding in Ivana Trump (Maria Bakalova, to be precise) that he no longer feels any desire for her, the latter has hallucinations of her and is rejected by this pot-bellied manwho struggles to hide his baldness and orange complexion. Continued a rape of Ivana to definitively make Donald Trump the monstrous pig we expected to see.

But if Scarface OR The Wolf of Wall Street showed the rise and fall of these men corrupted by their capitalist and liberal ambitions, The apprentice it stops first. In a final shot, Ali Abbasi shows Donald Trump’s gaze, with the reflection of the American flag and the city of New York in his eyes. He would only be missing the registration The world is Yours (The World is Yours) which Tony Montana observed in his time. We both know the rest.

The apprentice was presented at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in the Official Competition. The film will be released in theaters soon.

Source: Cine Serie

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