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film review

Steve Bannon appears in The Brink, a documentary by Alison Klayman.Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

  • The Brink
  • Directed by: Alison Klayman
  • Featuring: Steve Bannon
  • Classification: 14A; 93 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

What’s the opposite of propaganda? With The Brink, a shrewdly edited documentary from filmmaker Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry), we are shown the downfall year of Steve Bannon, the former Trump-team strategist turned “Sloppy Steve” pan-nationalist who says his mission is to “convert as many people as possible to the populist cause.” His cause won’t be hurt by Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall film, but his own standing takes a surgical-sharp hit. The documentary begins with Bannon being much too animated about the German engineering behind the Holocaust. In general, he’s framed as a rumpled, Red Bull-swilling globetrotter with an overriding enthusiasm for economic nationalism and a populist with deep Goldman Sachs ties. (Speaking of ties, he never wears one.) Although at one point he says, “This is on camera, so I’ll be careful,” he is nothing like discreet. “I consider propaganda to be positive,” he tells a blank-faced journalist. With Klayman using the man’s own words against him, Bannon comes off as a wallower in the mire. Sure, the film’s a bit of a hit job. But hey, as Bannon himself tells us, “There’s no bad media.” Sadly, he’s probably right.

The Brink opens April 12 in Toronto; May 3 in Montreal​.