james debate
james debate

Saturday 25 July 2009

Directed by Larry Charles
Written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, Jeff Schaffer
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammarsten
Release date(s) July 10th
Running time 81 minutes


Sacha Baron Cohen achieved world fame in 2006 with his movie Borat, but before that he had his own awesome tv show, as any Brit like myself knows. In this show he performed as three characters, Ali G, Borat and Brüno. Borat has his own movie, as does Ali G (to a lesser extent), now its Brüno's turn.

I had a few concerns before going in to this film. For starters, I feared that the outrageous and controversial Borat would be a very hard act to follow in terms of content, not to mention the fact that by now there must be very few people who don't know who Cohen is.

The other main concern was that many of the major scenes in Brüno had already (supposedly) been leaked in detail online, so strong was the media presence following him around as he attempted to make this film. As such there was a question over whether there would be anything left for the movie to surprise us with.

Fortunately Cohen has proven me (mostly) wrong.

Brüno follows Cohen's gay Austrian tv host, a shrewd parody of modern celebrity and fashion culture, as he tries to become the biggest star in the world. But of course that's not really what this movie is about, it's about the reactions of real people to the absurd actions of these characters, and what it says about our homophobic attitude, much in the way that Borat was a commentary on the xenophobic nature of people.

What ensues is undeniably hilarious. Impressively the aforementioned 'leaked' scenes are not even the best bits of the film, as good as they are (particularly the wrestling scene at the end of the film). Rather there is such a sharp wit evident through the film, and well scripted dialogue and hilarious jokes and references, the likes of which I won't spoil here.

However, there is validity in my earlier concern that Borat would be very hard to follow. Brüno involves graphic sex, both of the hetero and homosexual kind, gratuitous full frontal male nudity, and a scene in which Cohen vividly pretends to give a blow job to an invisible man, and it all seems like it's just trying too hard to be 'edgy'. Ultimately Brüno crosses a line in its efforts to escape the shadow of Borat, and the film turns out to be hilarious and unnecessarily cringeworthy in equal measures.

That being said, this increased edginess occasionally pays off, and at the end of the film you can't help but be amazed at the guts Cohen and his production team have shown in certain scenes, some of which even seem like they could have been life threatening to those involved. This includes SPOILER trips to the middle east to interview terrorist cells and make fun of them, and two men making out and stripping in the middle of a cage fight, surrounded by angry, drunk rednecks (and at one point a steel chair is flung just centimeters from one of the actor's heads. END SPOILER.

In the end, Brüno is not as good as Borat, nor is it as fresh. It feels very over the top and unnecessarily edgy to the point of being vulgar. However despite this there is a large amount of hilarity in this film, and you will find yourself laughing for much of it, even while you cringe.

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