A new film about Donald Trump has had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, attracting mostly good reviews from critics but a legal threat from the former president.

Titled The Apprentice, the biopic traces Mr Trump's origin story as an ambitious young property developer in 1970s and 80s New York.

His spokesman described the film, which features a scene where he is seen raping his first wife Ivana, as "garbage", "pure fiction" and "election interference by Hollywood elites".

The movie begins with a disclaimer that many of its events are fictionalised.

It debuted as Mr Trump's hush-money trial continues in New York, while he gears up for another presidential election in November.

What is The Apprentice?

Tailored Films Jeremy Strong and Sebastian Stan in The Apprentice
Jeremy Strong (left) plays lawyer Roy Cohn to Sebastian Stan's Donald Trump
Tailored Films

The title is partly a reference to the TV series Mr Trump fronted for more than a decade from 2004.

However, the film takes place several decades earlier, as Mr Trump is making his name as a real estate developer.

Sebastian Stan, who has appeared in Pam & Tommy, Dumb Money and several MCU films as Winter Soldier, portrays the former president.

Marvel star Sebastian Stan, pictured at the Cannes premiere, plays Donald Trump in The Apprentice

Succession star Jeremy Strong plays his ruthless mentor and lawyer Roy Cohn.

According to news agency AFP, the film "paints an unflinching but nuanced portrait of the former US president".

The film, said to feature "rape, erectile dysfunction, baldness and betrayal", starts out with a sympathetic potrayal of a headstrong but naive social climber.

As it progresses, however, the movie charts Mr Trump's "decency being eroded as he learns the dark arts of dealmaking and tastes power".

Its director, Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi, imagines several brutal events taking place behind closed doors. In one harrowing scene, Mr Trump is seen raping Ivana.

During their real-life divorce proceedings, Ivana accused Mr Trump of raping her, although she later retracted the allegation. She died in 2022.

Speaking to Vanity Fair before the premiere, Abbasi had said the aim was "to do a punk rock version of a historical movie... [not] get too anal about details and what's right and what's wrong".

The movie received an eight-minute standing ovation after its screening in Cannes, a festival where such audience reactions are common.

What has Donald Trump said?

Reuters Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump attends trial at Manhattan Criminal Court May 20,2024, New York City

Trump's campaign communications director Steven Cheung said legal action would be taken "to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers".

"This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalises lies that have been long debunked," he added in a statement.

"This is election interference by Hollywood elites, who know that President Trump will retake the White House and beat their candidate of choice because nothing they have done has worked."

In response, Abbasi told reporters in Cannes: "Donald's team should wait to watch the movie before they start suing us.

"I don't necessary think this is a movie that he would dislike... I think he would be surprised."

The premiere of The Apprentice at the French film festival on Monday came while Mr Trump is on trial in Manhattan. He denies falsifying business records to cover up a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and any sexual encounter.

'Not a hit job'

Reuters Director Ali Abbasi and cast member Maria Bakalova leave following the screening of the film "The Apprentice" in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 20, 2024
Actress Maria Bakalova, who portrays Ivana Trump, pictured with director Ali Abbasi

Critics wrote broadly positive reviews of the film following its premiere.

"This is the Donald Trump movie that you never knew you needed: full of compassionate feeling yet ruthless in analysis," said Kevin Maher of the Times in a four-star review.

Deadline's Pete Hammond described it as "a smart, sharp and surprising origin story".

"This is not a hit job on Trump," he said. "It presents a person somewhat driven but awkward, a man striving for the approval of a tough-love father, unsure but determined to succeed and even oddly charming at times."

Strong's performance is "superb", according to the Telegraph's Robbie Collin, "but Stan's approach feels too sensitive - given Trump’s total absence of hinterland, the role probably needed a caricaturist’s touch."

There was praise for the lead actor, however, from Variety's Owen Gleiberman. "Stan’s performance is a wonder," he wrote. "He gets Trump’s lumbering geek body language, the imposing gait with his hands held stiffly at his sides, and just as much he gets the facial language."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw was less keen, awarding the film two stars and commenting: "The Apprentice worryingly moves us back to the old Donald, the joke Donald... the joke that is now beyond unfunny. It feels obtuse and irrelevant."

Anticipating the audience reaction, the Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney said: "Liberals will see it as a stomach-churning making-of-a-monster account while the MAGA faithful might conceivably misconstrue it as an endorsement of their guy, who has made the killer instinct his brand."

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.