Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Gustaf Hammersten, Clifford Bañagale
Director: Larry Charles
Running Time: 81 mins
Brüno is an American film about a flamboyant and gay Austrian fashion star who, after seeing his life take a tumble in his home country, decides to move to the US to seek fame and fortune.
Pretty much as I expected, I hated this film. With the exception of the hilarious Borat, Brüno is yet another addition to Sacha Baron Cohen’s long list of painfully annoying characters, and as the film is filled to the brim with disgusting and childish humour that goes far beyond any sort of boundary, I had my head in my palm watching right the way through.
If you’ve seen Borat, Ali G Indahouse or The Dictator, you’ll know what Sacha Baron Cohen’s brand of humour is like – excessively grotesque, and unwilling to rein itself in at any point to provide a slightly more enjoyable experience. What’s most interesting about Brüno, however, is that it lies in the middle of Baron Cohen’s biggest success and biggest failure.
Ali G Indahouse is a crass film, but not too excessive given it was Baron Cohen’s first foray onto the big screen. Then, with the worldwide success of Borat, it appeared that the actor tried to capitalise with another crass and ridiculous character, but pushing the boat out even further, and that’s where this film falls down.
Because, although it may seem unlikely, there are funny elements to this film, but almost all of them are completely undone by the repeatedly horrifying scenes of gratuitous nudity that doesn’t provide any sort of entertainment, constantly throwing the most explicit images possible at you right the way through, and never really letting up to actually allow you to enjoy some of the more genuinely funny parts of the movie.
Now, as stupid as it may seem, there are parts of the movie that are genuinely interesting and somewhat funny, but you have to look beyond the wall of disgusting ‘comedy’ to get any sense of what they’re about. Principally, Baron Cohen does a very good job at satirising American culture, emulating his successes in Borat.
Firstly, he goes to Hollywood and explores all of its most ridiculous idiosyncracies, poking fun at the sometimes ludicrous nature of the fashion industry. And then (rather bravely I must admit), he travels in character as a gay Austrian fashionista to the Deep South, under the false pretense of trying to get ‘fixed’ to turn straight.
In that, there’s a pretty damning portrayal of just how intensely religious and as a result aggressively homophobic many people in that part of the world are, something that’s just as shocking to watch as the comedy is painful to sit through, but something that really did interest and impress me throughout.
Despite those few positives, my overriding impression of Brüno was extremely negative. It’s a failed attempt to recapture the success of Borat, with a painfully vulgar and childish sense of humour that goes far, far beyond what it should, and even though there is some humour and depth below that disgusting surface, it’s a film that’s desperately uncomfortable to sit through, and that’s why I’m giving it a 4.7.