83 Minutes // USA // Universal Pictures
dir. Larry Charles
Friday, July 10th, 2009 – Silvercity Brampton
starring: Sacha Baron Cohen & Gustaf Hammarsten
Even though Bruno’s segment was my least favourite of the three that occurred regularly on The Ali G Show, what Charles and Cohen did with 2006’s hit Borat gave me faith that they would instill a lot more intrigue and shock into the previously weary, although extremely gay Bruno.
Clearly intended to shock and awe the audiences with taboo – both of sexual perversion and the miserable things some people say. However, in this day and age – where the majority of society is generally relaxed and seemingly bisexual (bi-curious at the very least) – it is hard to push the proverbial envelope to the point where it draws more than a typical “Oh” reaction from the audience. With some of the explicit sexual acts, extremely bold conversations and a disheartening scene where parents objectify their babies for quick cash, this film dishes out the surprise in spades.
For those who haven’t been acquainted with Bruno before, this film gives a very simplistic and clear segway into the origins of Bruno prior to unleashing the beast that is shown less as a frothy caricature of the gay community, but rather an exuberant and disturbed fashionista. And like all fashionistas, they want to be popular and get noticed – this is where the plot of the film starts off.
After a RAVE like opening credit sequence with Scooter’s Nessaja blasting through the speakers, we are taught that Bruno is leaving his native country in Austria to become an icon – perhaps even a legend – in America, through any means possible. Throughout a non-stop 83 minutes of extreme promiscuity and a rampant homoerotic sensation – pleasant and delightful to me; traumatizing and full of grief to others – Bruno is a focused trip that requires a reckless path and a devoted partner in Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten in a surprisingly poetic and heartfelt turn). Bruno sifts through different get-famous-quick-schemes at various time lengths – based entirely on how short of a fuse the people he interview have – but these are rarely constructive in pursuit of his lone goal. Fortunately, they’re as persistently hilarious as Bruno is persistently horny. Whether it be from gastric laughter, cringe-induced winces or astonished gasps, Bruno constantly receives a varied, as well as riotous reaction from its audience.
Plenty of people have decided to compare Borat to Bruno for obvious reasons. Although most comparisons focus primarily on the similarities, I find it to be much easier to spot the differences between the two features. An area where Bruno flourishes where Borat does not is found within the scripted subplot between Bruno and Lutz. What could have been an overplayed formulaic attempt at unusual comradery with small bits of humor (see: Borat), are simply some of the most compelling scenes of the entire product. In essence, Bruno views Bruno and Lutz’ friendship as a needy and diva with a handler that is also a strong admirer of the diva. A loose tale of unrequited love that is just deep enough to have emotional connotations that are more parody than a flimsy attempt at poor satire. With this, the area you’d expect to be weakest in a film that is a pseudo-documentary isn’t even close – creating a hibernation-free comedy… perhaps one of only a handful ever viewed by these eyes of mine.
On the opposing side, I see a strong similarity between the paths the interviews that both Borat and Bruno take. The main instance would be the unsettling and fizzling chemistry between the interviewer and the interviewee – neither character appeared to have pillaged in order to find extremely uneasy participants. Cohen makes it seem effortless to amass such affluent humor through these simplistic scenarios – however, I’m sure the journey to make it seem easy was far from tranquil.
As it has been said time and time again, Sacha Baron Cohen is once again the King and a man with more natural talent than anyone working today. His work ethic and dedication is beyond comprehension and the quality he puts on the screen personally through acting is less of a performance and more of a methodical manifesting of a fictional character into a factual existence.
Even if it is a fair distance away from being a flawless feature, it does have a few heavily weighed aspects going for it in my book. Three actually! One: It has yet to be matched in terms of how much laughter shot its way through my lungs; Two: How it caused me to view society in vast unenlightened peril; Three: How effective it was in achieving an understanding with its viewer – however demented the connection is.
In the end, Bruno is more than just shock-appeal and grotesque slapstick humor. In actuality, it is a filthy and urgent tale of one man’s aspirations and easily combustible romantic life. Simply, Bruno causes you to appreciate life and all the perversions it may hold. [10/10]