Anthony Baxter’s “You’ve Been Trumped” takes stock of what happens when a brash celebrity billionaire runs roughshod over geographically pristine foreign turf. Familiarity may breed reluctant acceptance of blustery, cartoonishly self-promoting mogul Donald Trump on American network television, but exposure to the tycoon on a land-grabbing rampage through Scotland breeds more varied responses, including contempt. Stateside success for this somewhat uneven, “Roger and Me”-style docu will depend on U.S. auds’ ability to identify with global class-consciousness, their tolerance for occasionally touchy-feely environmentalist sentiment and their willingness to stomach the real-world consequences of Trump’s bombastic territorialism.
Excerpted TV reports from 2007 lay out Trump’s goals in usurping acres of ecologically unspoiled real estate in northeastern Scotland (described by preservationists as a wholly singular “mosaic of habitats”) to build two pricey, state-of-the-art golf courses, a swanky complex of 1,500 townhouses, and a luxury hotel.
The political situation perfectly parallels that of Bill Forsythe’s fictional 1983 lark “Local Hero” (scenes of which are intercut here), wherein recalcitrant Scottish eccentrics successfully thwart oilmen’s attempts to buy the very same spectacular coastline property. The docu’s grimmer picture, related by interviewees like Green Party politician Martin Ford and chronicled in news clips, finds the national government, wooed by promises of job creation and a lucrative tourist trade, overturning the anti-Trump decision of town elders and even threatening the use of “compulsory purchase orders” (the Scottish equivalent of “eminent domain”) to force the hands of homeowners who refuse to sell.
The filmmakers unabashedly side with the holdouts, chief among them Trump’s main nemesis, Michael Forbes (whose picture Trump sarcastically displays to David Letterman), along with neighbors Susan Munro and David Milne, who are given cameras to record the Trump organization’s boundary-encroaching acts of provocation.
Trump’s team includes Donald Trump Jr., development spokesperson Sarah Malone and head greenskeeper Paul O’Connor. But it must be said that helmer Baxter, in choosing an ideal villain, is met more than halfway by Trump himself, who seizes every opportunity to unfairly disparage longtime residents during press conferences and in absurd photo ops where he is always flanked by two work-for-hire bagpipers. He proclaims his expansionist ambitions on the Golf Channel, no less, and describes Forbes’ wooden sheds, a site that fits the rugged landscape, as “a terribly maintained, slum-like pigsty” apparently unfit for the sensitive eyes of well-to-do hotel guests.
Collectivist in spirit, this mostly entertaining film lacks an official host or voiceover narration, which first works swimmingly but eventually becomes too diffuse. Even after the bulldozers, steam shovels and dumptrucks arrive, much remains unresolved as Trump departs for his 2011 presidential bid.