The Brink should be a more controversial movie than it is. For a little over 90 minutes, audiences closely observe Steve Bannon, former chairman of right-wing news outlet Breitbart News and former chief strategist for President Donald Trump. Isn’t it insane for Bannon, a highly criticized public figure, to volunteer himself to be the subject of a documentary?
No matter your opinion on Steve Bannon, his policies, or his political stance, The Brink won’t exceed your expectations. It’s almost as if director Alison Klayman (who is also the film’s lone cinematographer) realized she would be swimming upstream to turn anyone’s opinion around and thought it would be best to just let the camera roll and allow Bannon (and his associates) to speak for themselves. That basic filmmaking method does work for Klayman, who builds a story about a controlling and belittling “leader” who is able to live by his beliefs by disassociating from life itself.
When he isn’t acting condescending towards others, Steve Bannon is glued to his phone and slugging back anything with caffeine in it. He jokes about how the media perceives his health, but the visual evidence is front and centre. He presents himself to the film as a salesman – a sociable quality that Trump and himself obviously share and most likely could connect on. The documentary is also careful to showcase the repetition of Bannon’s banter; he uses dialogue in his favour to make tense discussions more conversational.
These go-to securities start to waver, however, once unpredictable elements start throwing Bannon’s behaviour into a funk (Trump’s teasing once he’s released Bannon from his role at the White House, the transparency of Bannon’s latest film Trump @War, the midterm results). Towards the end of the film, he’s almost laughed off stage at a Toronto conference – a revealing arc considering how confident he is at the beginning of the documentary.
Despite getting an exclusive peek, the documentary isn’t all that revolutionary. It’s moderately interesting, but still worth the watch. It may also be the first time I’m recommending a movie that could be “the feel-bad film of the year” for viewers.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie