Film Review: Bruno
Camp fashion reporter, Brüno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter ego, is much like his previous role as Borat, dealing with similar topics and in analogous style to his Kazakhstani counterpart. If anything, Brüno is even more outrageous and controversial than Baron Cohen’s previous effort.
This mockumentary charts the travels of Brüno, a gay Austrian culture and fashion presenter, as he moves from offensive act to offensive act with little breathing space in between. Those familiar with Da Ali G show will know him as having a relatively minor, but hilarious, part in the TV show. He also featured in a series of shorts for the Paramount Comedy Channel.
In the course of shooting Brüno, Baron Cohen performed a number of stunts, some quite breathtaking in their audacity. One such event saw the presenter interview former presidential candidate, Ron Paul. After a staged technical incident, Brüno took Paul to a different room and began dancing before stripping off in front of the outraged politician. It’s stunts like this that define Brüno as totally unique, and the flinch-inducing reality of many of the situations will make or break the film for you. If you’ve got an open mind when it comes to comedy, this will no doubt have you doubled over in laughter, otherwise, you may find yourself confused as to what exactly everyone in the cinema is laughing at.
Where Borat highlighted the prejudices of America in light of race and religion, Brüno does the same with homosexuality. Both of these angles are clearly more fruitful in the south of the states, so much of the film takes place in those places where reactions are most fierce, leading to some truly side-splitting scenes.
Brüno embarrasses a number of interviewees across diverse locations such as fashion shows, military bootcamps and talk shows. While a majority of the situations degenerate into Cohen’s particular brand of slapstick, in each circumstance it’s difficult to miss his acute awareness of exactly which buttons to press and when.
Looking past the comedy, there are many points at which Brüno makes the kind of social commentary that you would normally associate with Michael Moore. However, Cohen’s movements don’t extend to synopsizing and concluding, making it a fantastically clever and insightful look at the nature of prejudice
A vast majority of Baron Cohen’s exploits as Brüno are there solely to elicit the kind of embarrassed shock that Borat delivered, but as the tag line says, “Borat was so 2006,” and Bruno is, if anything a more outlandish version of Baron Cohen’s humour. He’s the only person doing this kind of comedy at the moment. Brüno will undoubtedly bring a number of reactions from embarrassment to laughter to the self-beratement of laughing at the awkwardness of others.