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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump documentary review: science backs up the horror we can all plainly see

#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Mental-health professionals, bound by ethics to point out danger, discuss how President Donald Trump is uniquely dangerous, a literal menace to society. Nay, not “discuss”: they are screaming it.
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m anti-Trump all the way
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, male protagonist
(learn more about this)

I have become a person who yells at the TV. And at Twitter. Usually what I’m yelling is some variant of “What the hell is wrong with you?!” And invariably the person I am yelling that at is Donald Trump.

The really angry-making thing about my reaction isn’t that I know he can’t hear me. It’s that I know that we all know perfectly well what the hell is wrong with him, and yet way too many people — including most of the mainstream political press — downplay it or ignore it or actively pretend that he is not the tire fire of a human being that he very clearly is. The really angry-making thing is that no journalist in the White House briefing room has ever shouted it at him and demanded an answer.

What we can all plainly see with our own eyes, and what we can all plainly feel in our bones, is laid out bare in #Unfit, which doesn’t actually have “The Psychology of Donald Trump” as its subtitle on the film itself. But that’s how it’s being marketed, and this is what it is about. Documentarian Dan Partland, making his feature debut, has teamed up with the Duty to Warn Coalition, “an association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens,” to explain how Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist and why this renders him utterly unsuited to serve as president of the United States… or to serve in any role on behalf of the public.

#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump

Donald Trump: malignant narcissist. But you knew that already.

Narcissism. Paranoia. Constant lying. Constant transgression of norms. Inability to show guilt or remorse. Inability to demonstrate loyalty. Lack of empathy. Lack of conscience. Sadism. These are all part of malignant narcissism, and they are all blatantly obvious “qualities” of Trump’s personality. The important thing here is that an array of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts break that taboo about diagnosing people without having spoken to them to discuss how all of these personality traits make a Donald Trump in the White House uniquely dangerous.

Oh, and it turns out that that “taboo” is, in fact, no such thing. It came about because of some unfounded speculation about one-time 1960s presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. (This is discussed in the film.) But diagnosing malignant narcissism is about observable behavior, of which we have plenty when it comes to Trump, since he seems incapable of avoiding a spotlight and loves to talk about himself. What’s more, a core value of mental-health care is avoiding danger of harm to others: it would be unethical of mental-health pros not to speak out when they see that danger looming. In the same way that professionals have a duty to report, say, that one of their patients has threatened to kill someone, they are bound by ethics to scream from the rooftops that Donald Trump is a literal menace to society.

And they are screaming here in #Unfit.

I know it’s a pipe dream, but I wish that every American would see this movie before Election Day.

I know it’s a pipe dream, but I wish that every American would see this movie before Election Day. Anti-Trumpers might not need any more convincing to vote against him, but it’s still absolutely worth getting an in-depth understanding of precisely why Trump is such a threat to the entire world, not just the United States. (It’s not merely that we feel he is dangerous. There is solid scientific and medical evidence that he is.) And pro-Trumpers desperately need to appreciate that he does not give the tiniest shit about his voters, because he is incapable of caring about them. Trump supporters need to understand that he will never do anything that will benefit them, that he is using them for his own ends.

None of this is pleasant to hear, but if Trump goes down in flames, he will be taking all of us — including those who voted for him, those who turn out at rallies for him, those who buy and wear his red hats — with him. It will be the only reaction he is capable of. The prospect is beyond terrifying, and I wonder if it is even avoidable, as by voting him out. In this respect, #Unfit is the most important movie of the year, and the scariest.


#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump is available to stream via Laemmle Virtual Cinemas, which supports arthouses during the coronavirus lockdown. It is also available on cable and satellite on-demand services, with other digital streaming options coming soon.


Click here for my ranking of this and 2020’s other new films.



green light 5 stars

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#Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump (2020) | directed by Dan Partland
US/Can release: Aug 28 2020 (VOD)

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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