(2019) Documentary (Magnolia) Steve Bannon, Nigel Farage, Daniel Fleuette, Joshua Green, Deb Haaland, Raheem Kassam, Kevin Sullivan, Sam Nunberg, John Thornton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ari Melber, Roy Moore, Sean Bannon, David Frum, Christopher Hope, Paul Gosar, Paul Lewis, Anne Karni, Steve Cortes, Lena Epstein, Giorgia Meloni, Ilhan Omar, Sharice Davids. Directed by Alison Klayman
Steve Bannon has never, to my knowledge, been elected to any office, but he remains even now an important figure in the Republican party, although admittedly less so than he might have been in 2016 after steering Donald Trump’s unlikely Presidential win. He became a policy advisor to the 45th President for the first year of his term, before being unceremoniously dumped from his post following the Charlottesville protest.
This documentary follows him during the year after his dismissal from the White House, accompanying him on a whirlwind speaking tour as he attempts to assemble a global unity of populist parties (some would say white nationalist) that he identifies as “The Movement,” meeting with far right party members in far-flung locations like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, and France.
Bannon can be charming and disarming, but one doesn’t have to listen all that closely to realize how monstrous his message is. Considering that he is currently under indictment for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the January 6th committee regarding the events of that day, he is a mass of contradictions, espousing a return to law and order yet defying the law when it suits his interests.
Bannon clearly craves the spotlight, and the power that comes with it and it seems likely that he is deliberately steering the documentary towards keeping him in the limelight as much as possible, because that’s where his effectiveness is essentially made by uttering controversial statements, and by appearing to be a Red Bull-chugging, slovenly Sasquatch-in-a-suit. Is he a demagogue? Absolutely. Is he dangerous? Without a doubt. Is he a fitting documentary subject? As a cautionary tale, yes.
REASONS TO SEE: A terrifying look at the playbook of the far right.
REASONS TO AVOID: A very polarizing film, as some will see Bannon as a hero, others as a villain (the filmmaker’s position is clearly obvious).
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: This is one of two documentaries shot concurrently about Bannon, the other being Errol Morris’ American Dharma.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Flix Fling, Google Play, Hoopla, Hulu, Kanopy, Microsoft, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/5/2022: Rotten Tomatoes: 85% positive reviews; Metacritic: 71/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: American Dharma
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
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