Hot Docs 2014: The Notorious Mr. Bout Review

The Notorious Mr Bout

The Notorious Mr. Bout

Special Presentations

It’s not often that a character from a Nicolas Cage flick is the subject of documentary, but then there really is only one Viktor Bout. The man, legend, and loose subject of Lord of War was one of the most notorious arms dealers who ever lived. Co-directors Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin follow Bout’s morally questionable, but undeniably profitable business through 20 years and across 5 continents. Bout was a millionaire by 25 through his international dealings and ran his own empire by 30. He was also an undeniable egotist who shot home videos of almost everything that he did, allowing Gerber/Pozdorovkin to compile a shockingly candid portrait of Bout’s curious life. That’s a huge boon to the film given that before this film there were only a few fleeting photographs of Bout available and now there’s a first person feature dedicated to his unique life. In the subject’s eyes, he’s an innocent man caught in a bad situation. His wife Alla, meanwhile, operates as the second lead in the documentary and presents herself as clueless and her husband a wronged man.

There’s no denying that Bout is a charismatic man and that his life story is incredibly entertaining. Not unlike The Wolf of Wall Street, the film doesn’t outright moralize or judge it’s subject. They don’t spoon feed the audience perspectives and opinions. Viewers have to work all that out for themselves. We’re dealing with a convicted arms dealer, so if you consider Bout to be an unfairly entrapped man that’s probably because you’re not considering the implications of his actions. If Bout didn’t think about that either, that’s irresponsible megalomania bordering on insanity. To allow that ambiguity into their film is a boldly admirable move by the filmmakers. However, whether this subject deserves that treatment is a reasonable question… that’s difficult to answer. (Phil Brown)

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Screens

Saturday, April 26, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 7:00pm

Sunday, April 27, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 1:45pm

Sunday, May 4, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 7:00pm

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