Two films about the night of the 2016 presidential election had their world premieres at The Hamptons International Film Festival on Friday. One, Jeff Deutchman’s documentary “11/8/16,” follows more than a dozen people in cities and towns around the country as they watch the election results with elation or, alternatively, horror. The other, Onur Tukel’s comedy “The Misogynists,” stars Dylan Baker as an angry divorcee celebrating Donald Trump’s victory in a hotel room.
The two films present very different views about the outcome of the election, and what it says about America.
The movies’ differences are built into their formats: The documentary at least aspires toward an objective truth, while the satire decidedly does not. The movies’ titles seem apt: “11/8/16” doesn’t imply much of anything besides a sense of historic impact — we can all agree on that — while “The Misogynists” telegraphs a certain amount of judgment. When wider audiences get to see these movies — “11/8/16” is slated for release Nov. 8, but “The Misogynists” is still seeking distribution — reactions should be interesting.
“The Misogynists” may play well in blue-state metropolitan areas. Its anti-hero, Cameron (Baker), is a pro-Trump businessman, a casual racist and a proud chauvinist, whose recent divorce has “liberated” him, he says, from the shackles of women — and, by extension, from anything that smacks of political correctness. Now Cameron is free to spend his nights snorting cocaine and bedding prostitutes in a $15,000-a-month hotel room on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, which is where he jubilantly watches the election results with Baxter (Jamie Block), his friend and fellow conservative.
Characters pop in and out of Cameron’s room, but they don’t interact so much as hold debates. “The Misogynists” wants to be a searing satire, but it would have worked better if its characters felt like real, recognizable people. Instead, they represent sides of an argument inside the filmmaker’s head, and it’s an argument that’s already been decided.
Deutchman’s movie is the rare documentary that feels nonpartisan. It’s a chronicle of real events, captured on film and without editorializing. Deutchman compiled footage of more than a dozen people scattered across the political, geographical and ethnic map, from a young Hillary Clinton campaigner in Ohio to a pro-Trump family man in Massachusetts, and just about everyone in between. Aside from one or two questions from an unseen interviewer, the subjects are largely left alone and are allowed to speak for themselves. The result is a fascinating, multiexposure snapshot of a momentous night that is bound to re-trigger viewers’ emotions.
Ironically, the happiest-seeming folks in this film are the lowest on society’s ladder: a homeless Hawaiian couple who have no idea who’s running. Their gentle ukulele playing under a makeshift tent provides a poignant backdrop to a montage of images from an angry and fearful country.