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Brutal Donald Trump Biopic ‘The Apprentice’ Gets 8-Minute Cannes Standing Ovation as Director Says ‘It’s Time to Make Movies Political Again


Maria Bakalova and Martin Donovan also star in Ali Abbasi’s detailed chronicle of the future U.S. president’s rise in the 1970s and ‘80s under the tutelage of cutthroat lawyer Roy Cohn.


via: Variety


The Apprentice,” the story of the 45th and possibly 47th president’s early years as a real estate developer, earned a eight-minute standing ovation on Monday. It’s probably safe to assume that the film festival crowd isn’t a MAGA-heavy one, so it helps that “The Apprentice” paints a blistering portrait, focusing on Trump’s relationship with Roy Cohn, the McCarthy-ite lawyer and fixer who took an interest in the “the Donald” before he was a household name.


Sebastian Stan (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”) stars as Trump, Jeremy Strong (“Succession”) plays Cohn and Maria Bakalova (“Borat 2”) portrays Ivana Trump, the thrice-married president’s first spouse. Ali Abbasi, the Iranian-Danish filmmaker behind “Border” and “Holy Spider,” directs the movie from a script by Gabriel Sherman, a journalist who covered the Trump White House, as well as Fox News and its founder Roger Ailes. The title is a nod to the NBC series that helped revitalize Trump’s career and public image after he had endured a series of business setbacks and bankruptcies.


Abassi was so thrilled with the response that his tuxedo shirt came untucked from his pants as his jumped up and down, waving to the rafters. “There is no nice metaphorical way to deal with fascism,” the director said. “It’s time to make movies relevant. It’s time to make movies political again.”



The movie is certainly explosive. It portrays Trump as a striver, who falls under Cohn’s influence as he struggles to deal with a racial discrimination lawsuit from the Justice Department over how his family real estate business treats Black applicants for its apartment complex. There’s a lot in here that should upset Trump and his supporters. He’s depicted raping Ivana, abusing amphetamines in order to lose weight (then getting tummy tug with a hair implants chaser), and cutting deals with underworld figures so Trump Tower can move forward as planned. He also fails to pay bills and makes a bad bet on a Jersey City casino (so much for “The Art of the Deal”). There’s also a scene where Cohn grips Trump’s leg suggestively under the table that may not play so well at the Mar-a-Lago screening room.


Stan, Bakalova and Abbasi walked the red carpet, but Strong was not in attendance. He is currently appearing on Broadway in a Tony-nominated revival of “Enemy of the People” and couldn’t leave the show to travel to Cannes. However, he did make an appearance via a shirtless photo on Abbasi’s phone during the standing ovation.




“The Apprentice” is premiering as Trump is once again running for president, with polls showing he has a lead over President Biden in the majority of swing states. The film is looking for a domestic distribution deal and is considered to be one of the hottest projects available for buyers.


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