Bruno : Movie Review

5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

Director : Larry Charles

Actor, Producer and Co-Writer : Sacha Baron Cohen

English, 2009


Bruno is the patron saint of all pansy fashionistas. As a delicate-bodied 19 yr boy who feels vulnerable in the company of men, Bruno (as embodied by Sacha Baron Cohen with outrageous panache and cheeky chutzpah) splashes this movie with different hues of shocking sexual humour. To jazz it up with more spice-’’n’-variety the pic (released in 2009) satirizes many ripe targets of American culture- on the skewer are celebrity charities, audience-centric reality talk shows, "gay-conversions" ,and WWF-style wrestling. By the time pic ends, it seems no effort has spared in making this a series of back-to-back episodes profiling the hilarious adventures of a glitz-craving homosexual fashionista. 

While 2006’s Borat (also starring the ultra-talented Sacha Cohen) may have taken along conservative audiences, Bruno with its blunt provocations will entertain only those who don’t mind or even enjoy their comedies spiked with dollops of smut. For this target liberal audience, Director Larry Charles & Team do their best to serve up the choicest hoots from start to finish.

At start of story, Bruno is basking and having spanking fun in his native sun as the full-of-beans host of "Funky-Zeit"- a fashion-based TV programme. He is introduced in a series of flashy montages which are usually reserved for super-sirens and PlayBoy center-spreads. We also get familiarized with his trippy brand of German-inflected English . Right off the bat the shock-factor is pressed into play as Bruno takes on a very short,young Hispanic male as his lover. The tolerance of their coupling antics may prognosticate which viewer is going to continue with this movie and who’s not.

On his show, apart from the fashion rubric, Bruno also features such exclusives as successfully persuading a man to reveal his private parts. Soon his sense of fashion is also elaborated as he chooses to wear an all-velcro outfit for a Milan event. What follows makes Bruno a resurgent exile. We are witness to this young genius’s tragedy as he says in his own words- "For the second time in history, the world has turned on Austria’s greatest man!" Rebuffed at every fashion-entry point in his country, Bruno retools and hatches a 2-in-1 plan to become (quote)-"the biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler!" and "the biggest gay moviestar since Schwarzenegger!" At his loyal side he finds Lutz- his assistant’s assistant. Lutz’s admiration for Bruno is previously noted when he lovingly shakes his head while carrying the bucket into which Bruni has vomited for the sake of dieting.

Star and side-kick land up in Los Angeles to make it big. An agent ,acting against his better instincts, allows a group of producers to see a TV show put together by this unknown auteur. The show will make US television history alright, but the stunned producers refuse to touch it. In the parlour of a consultant who claims to speak to departed souls ,Bruno provides further proof of his acting acumen by performing a hilariously sick pantomime.
After consorting with PR consultants about the "coolest" charity, Bruno enroute an Africa stop-over, adopts an African child. How he first receives his new son in the US and their subsequent rending fate in a talk show, packs another brilliant riff.

Resolving then to find fame by resolving the Middle East crisis, the tireless advanced teen jets off to the region.But for the lad who asks the ex-Mossad chief in an interview why he dislikes a dish like "Hummus" so much ( the young negotiator had actually hoped to understand the imbroglio around "Hamas") that endeavor may prove to be a little more difficult. There’s more as Bruno will sacrifice everything to click in America but his own nature and the true nature of repressed love ultimately helps him find out what he’s been seeking all along.

From his hairstyle to clothing, body language to countenance, from his perspective to his laugh, Bruno smacks of the comic gay stereotype and the film-makers milk these mannerisms for all their risque worth. This may have all seemed just puerile at the start of the story-board but the razor-sharp level of wit and its spot-on execution elevates the screenplay. Aside from the waves and spurts of bawdy abandon,it is worthwhile to note the undercurrent of skillful satire that peppers the narrative. The protagonist on one occasion interviews parents asking whether they will allow their auditioning children to perform various acts that have potential to kill or injure. The featured parents agree after only a token amount of deliberation. 30 years ago, this may have taxed credulity but such scenes have a better level of acceptance in this current age of reality TV’s fearless fools.

To be additionally fair to this barely adult specimen, he has an electic array of qualities which may get him high TRPs - he is ignorant,arrogant, gloriously insensitive, full of brazen misconceptions and "queer as the blazes" (the last one as Senator Ron Paul puts it) It is to the movie’s constant credit that it converts all these traits into triggers for laughter. The movie successfully becomes an unapologetic rollercoaster that hits all the nutty turns,kinks and twists.

Bruno,it turns out, has much to teach Uncle Sam in the tactics of shock and dubious awe.I found it difficult to come up with an answer when required to think of one unmistakeable sequence of facetiousness in the entire film. Yes, it is a tough film to stomach, but for those who claim to not be squeamish, here is a shameless trek into loony-land. Enjoy at your own peril !

PS- Sacha Cohen’s "The Dictator", spoofing Libya’s late Muammar Gaddafi, is scheduled for release in 2012. One suspects that it will be adequately tyrannical in ensuring liberal laughs.




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