GIFF 2019 – Review: THE BRINK Is A Fascinating Documentary About An Ousted Political Figure

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Steve Bannon in THE BRINK, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The Brink is a new fly-on-the-wall documentary film about Steve Bannon directed by Alison Klayman. The movie follows the former White House chief strategist’s worldwide journey to spread extreme nationalism. It debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and played at the 2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival.

A significant part of what makes the film so interesting is that Steve Bannon is an interesting guy. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his politics, you have to admit that his personality is very eccentric and quite entertaining to watch. What is most surprising, though, is that Bannon was willing to participate in the documentary, as it seems unlikely that this documentarian would ever appear conservative.

This movie is definitely a very impressive political tool. It isn’t necessarily propaganda because it isn’t expressly trying to promote liberalism. Instead, the film lets Bannon speak for himself in a way that is self-humiliating. The movie doesn’t have to do much to make him look like incompetent because he makes himself look bad enough already. In his first interview, Bannon praises the architecture of concentration camps. It seems like he doesn’t know what not to say or simply doesn’t care.

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Steve Bannon in THE BRINK, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

The story of the film is definitely very interesting, largely because some of Bannon’s ideas are so shocking that it is almost unbelievable that he has support from people around the world. Some of the interactions and meetings that he has over the course of the movie are captivating because they play out in a way that is sometimes suspenseful and often funny.

The film definitely has a lot of relevance to the current political climate in many ways. The events of the movie are extremely recent, and as such, they are still important and have legitimate impact. It is also very interesting to see how the White House is continually changing in terms of people, but remains static in terms of ideology.

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Steve Bannon in THE BRINK, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Additionally, the pacing of the film is quite strong. Bannon’s world tour took up quite a bit of time, yet the movie presents it in a way that is condensed and interesting. There is almost certainly an element of bias in the choice of footage that was presented, but it is not overly manipulated in a way that feels fake. Instead, it feels like we are only seeing the important parts of the story.

On a technical level, the film was very good. As a fly-on-the-wall documentary, the movie is impressive. The documentarian’s voice is still present, but not in a way that is overwhelming or aggressive. One of the more respectable parts of the film is that it doesn’t vilify Bannon, instead opting to show the side that many people don’t see of him.

Overall, The Brink was a surprisingly enjoyable documentary. The movie doesn’t feel like it is shoving its message down your throat, but is effective in delivering it, if only people can see this film.

The Brink played at the 2019 Gasparilla International Film Festival. It opens in theaters March 29.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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