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The Brink Movie Review

Bannon Guides Us to the Edge


If you love Donald Trump, you probably already love Steve Bannon. If you hate Donald Trump, you probably already hate Steve Bannon. Nothing in Alison Klayman's documentary "The Brink" will move your opinion off your current stance, but that's not the goal of this doc. At least I don't think it is, because I doubt it will change the opinions of more than a handful of viewers.


It's mostly a fly-on-the wall view of Mr. Bannon, and the biggest thing I took from it is that Bannon is smiling and joking as he attempts to overthrow the powers-that-be in Europe. He already believes he's accomplished that in America by assisting Trump in his ascension to the Presidency.

From the beginning, we see Bannon at home working the phones, dressed in his trademark rumpled, multiple-shirt look. The rumpled look extends to his face, which is seemingly always in need of a shave and scrubbing. He is as disheveled as some homeless people. I don't know if he's an alcoholic, but that's what jumped into my head. When we see photos of him as a young man, one can't help but be startled by his good looks and overall appearance.

Knowing him, it's probably all part of his overall strategy. No matter whether you like him or not, no one should think this isn't a well thought out man. He is very bright. Not quite as bright as he believes, but plenty bright.

Bannon is in constant flight, jetting from one political battle to another. We see him campaigning all over the U.S. and giving the same speech for "the cause,” including for the notorious Roy Moore in Alabama. The thread throughout is backing anyone who backs Trump, no matter the character of that candidate.

Perhaps more importantly, Bannon is backing numerous campaigns by right-wingers throughout Europe. Alarmingly, some of the people he takes meetings with are actual Nazis. This is certainly disconcerting to watch, but not exactly shocking.

Throughout the film, Bannon retains his cool with his adversaries and is smiling through all of it. His little bouts of anger are reserved for his allies when they are not performing at a level he demands. The only real conflict loaded with tension is when Paul Lewis, a reporter for The Guardian, stands his ground against Bannon's lies during a sharp-tongued exchange between Lewis, Bannon, Bannon supporters, and an interpreter. It's the only time in the film that Bannon appears shaken and a bit threatened.

"The Brink" is pretty close to being a perfect documentary. The principal subject is viewed without being filtered. The film is lush in appearance. Most importantly it builds tension as it goes. Despite my already having knowledge of most of the major events presented here, the unfolding still made me edgy. It's only March, but it's hard to imagine that "The Brink" will not be a nominee for best documentary of 2019, and so far it's my favorite film of any type this year.




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