Friday, September 11, 2009
Director: Larry Charles
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen
The problem with, Austrian fashion reporter, Brüno (Cohen) is not his homosexuality, as he comes to think, but the fact that he didn't come soon enough-pun intended.
Two years after the comedian's breakthrough with "Borat", this new film which follows "Borat"'s mockumentary style lacks the refreshing satirical sense that made Cohen one of the most polarizing figures in the industry.
Brüno is outlandishly gay, he dresses in semi-transparent clothes, publicly endorses anal bleaching and adopts African babies because Madonna and Angelina are doing it.
He migrates to Los Angeles after his career in Austria dies (following a disastrous runway appearance with a, prototype, velcro suit) and in the land of opportunity seeks to become a celebrity.
With that intention he tries several mediums (talk shows, an outrageous TV pilot and eventually extreme wrestling) and fails in most of them.
The only constant in his life is his assistant Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten) who has more than professional admiration for him.
Oblivious to this, Brüno spends his time trying to achieve his ultimate goal. Cohen gives an uncompromising, hilarious performance. His ability to get in life-or at least safety-threatening situations is admirable.
When he disrobes in front of presidential candidate Ron Paul in an attempt to seduce him we are more shocked than when he gives oral sex to a famous dead lover through a psychic.
Even when the crass situations elicit laughter they aren't as funny as they ought to be, mostly because we never truly believe them to be completely honest.
Yes, people do laugh with completely scripted films all the time, but knowing Cohen's kind of comedy-whose appeal lies in the unexpected-most of the people interviewed in this movie seem to be in the joke.
Cohen is so notorious that the film isn't even able to exploit the fashion world (everyone knows who he is and he would've never passed undetected), so when he chooses to mock the American Midwest he falls into the same sort of hypocrisy he seeks to mock.
What's sadder, not even redneck hunters seem to be unaware that they're in some sort of gag. Cohen's intentions are good; he wanted to unmask the aversion our world has developed towards sex-especially "unconventional" practices-but not even when we see Brüno at the end of an exercise contraption, with a strategically placed dildo, do we feel the utter shock Cohen expects us to.
How would have we reacted if this film had come before "Borat"? Would the effects have been different? And if so, why didn't Cohen concentrate on this very loss of privacy instead of searching for politically incorrect takes on homosexuality?
Because of this it's impossible to watch this film and not think that Cohen isn't interested in unmasking society, just satging his very own runway show.