I went into this film having neither seen Ali G nor Borat, just the trailer for Bruno (which didn’t make me think much of it). The previews on 30 June were high security, I got photo ID-checked five times on my way to the screen at West India Quay (and back from the loo which I dared to visit before the film started), and other people throughout the UK have reported the same. Despite all the security and SeeFilmFirst having stuffed up sending email confirmations, the film was packed and everyone was in a good mood, you could hear raucous laughter along “no way!” comments throughout.
Sacha Baron Cohen stars as Bruno in a fictitious story about a gay Austrian fashion journalist around footage of real people. It’s a comedy but it’s is really about pushing social boundaries to the extreme, it is uncomfortable at times to sit through but that is the intention!
Let’s make no excuses, Bruno is crude, lewd, outrageous, offensive and designed to shock. It does deserve its 18 rating as at times it is more a gay porn movie than anything else, with full frontal nudity in several scenes. But it is absolutely hilarious and I have never laughed so much in my life!
Yes, some stuff is really over the top and I had to avert my eyes a couple of times (willy wagging anyone?) but those gay converters? Oh my God. And those pushy mothers: “yes my baby will be fine next to heavy machinery, and yes, I would consider liposuction on my baby if it could not shed 10 pounds in a week”. My jaw just dropped!
Cohen is a very brave man, I have no idea how this man is still alive after strutting his stuff in outrageous clothes in ultra-conservative parts of Israel, calling Osama Bin Laden names in front of a Muslim terrorist, telling some army bloke that what he just said is “such a Samantha thing to say” after having compared the scene with Sex and the City, escaping a dominatrix at a swinger party and getting down to some gay action in a straight wrestler ring! Not to forget offending an entirely black audience of an American TV show with his adopted black “gayby” which he gave “the traditional African American name of O.J”. And making Paula Abdul sit on “Mexican chairs”! I could not believe what Bruno got away with, I felt he would be lynched several times over but I can say one thing for sure: this film is not homophobic, on the contrary, it shows up our own prejudices as much as the ones of the people he encountered in the film.
I have no problem with his jokes about German speaking countries (they are mostly about Austria anyway, so that’s okay) but the idea of letting him speak German with his assistant wasn’t as great as it could have been as both their pronunciations weren’t very good and I had to read the subtitles to know what they actually said! I have no idea what a strictly English-speaking audience made of his frequent uses of half-baked German words in an English sentence either.
The film is shorter than expected as sadly it seems he had to cut out quite a few scenes involving celebrities (probably to avoid libel action), and not just the one about LaToya making a quip about Michael Jackson which would have felt wrong so soon after his death.
9/10 from me.
Bruno will be in cinemas from 10 July.