CREDIT: Magnolia Pictures

Starring: Steve Bannon

Director: Alison Klayman

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: Unrated

Release Date: March 29, 2019 (Limited)

Steve Bannon is eminently convinced about the righteousness of his crusade. I make that conclusion based on how he generally carries himself and on how much access he gave to a documentarian who clearly does not believe in his cause. That open-door approach is a double-edged sword for Alison Klayman’s The Brink, though, as it allows for plenty of (potentially) illuminating footage, while also underscoring how unpleasant it is to spend an hour and a half with Bannon. While he does have his fans, he is objectively not an engaging personality.

The Brink follows Bannon’s efforts to spread his gospel of nationalism and economic populism throughout the United States and around the globe. What is most striking in this portrait, at least to me, is how much his supporters get excited when they are in his presence. It isn’t that I disagree with these people’s politics (although I definitely do), but rather, I am confounded by how much they do not know (or don’t believe) that Bannon is not known for his charm. Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall approach does not change this perception, although I will concede that if you spend enough time with Bannon, you can detect a sort of demented folksiness. The point of The Brink is to tease out the xenophobia inherent in his crusade, and it conveys that thesis effectively enough, but it is locked in a soulless yin-yang with its black hole of a subject that drains away much of the potential for audience catharsis.

The Brink is Recommended If You Like: Spending an hour and a half with an unmagnetic personality with dangerous ideas

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Torchbearers