I’m going to say this right up front–I LOVED this movie. I know, it was over the top in so many ways. But what some may call sensationalism, I would call an effort to break through yet another mould of taboo that our society has outgrown. Sasha Baron Cohen, to me, is a journalist who uses humor effectively to expose modern society. Bruno is a glorious example of this.
As far as film elements go, this movie is packed with the right stuff–the direction and the timing of scenes and editing of scenes fuels intelligent humor. And the overall story arch, given all of the divergent parts, was pulled off quite expertly.
Now, I am pretty sure a lot of people started to check out when he poured the champaign from his lovers axx. But this is always the time in a film that tests the audience. And this kind of thing inspired my curiosity because Cohen has never let me down in terms of what he is trying to get across if I only bear with him. I just couldn’t imagine him involved in all of those things up front without purpose.
In the end, I was pleased. He managed to expose, as he always expertly does, the ludicrous level of judgment and rigid frameworks of consciousness alive in so many people around the world, including every audience member.
A few methods stick out in my mind:
First, he exposes his own character’s vein attempts to achieve stardom at any cost. After a failed attempt to debut a line of velcro fashion wear, Bruno finds himself on the sidelines of the in crowd and at a loss for an experimental lover on top of it. The mention of Hitler is intelligent in this zone of the movie because it was precisely these kinds of circumstances in his artistic and romantic career that drove the dictator to a level of megalomania that would see him kill millions of people. What Bruno as a character plays on is the perverse level of self-agrandizement that some (unfortunate) times fuels dilusion among those who strive for attention on the wings of failure.
His ‘adoption’ of African baby OJ is at once deeply offensive in all of its scenery and telling at the same time. The editing around the montage as he loses OJ on the talk show is nothing short of an hilarious expose of our continuous exploitation of Africa and the unfortunate to gain not only resources but also fame and attention. There was something reminiscent of David Wayne in that montage for me. Something that begs the question: “are you paying attention to how ridiculous things have become?!” And this is where my humor may take a dry, cynical curve in the road over a straight-shot drive though the scenic hills. I need to go to these creepy places sometimes so that I don’t stay in dreamland about life, because people are, indeed, prone to act crazy.
The interviews with parents about what they would be willing to expose their children to for fame really disturbed me. Stupidity is one thing, yet this was a series of attrocities that revealed so much if they were indeed real responses.
The scenes with him in straight counseling are again deeply sad, humorous and cathartic all at once. The overly-pragmatic logic flowing across the table toward Bruno as he asks for directions on how to be straight (to achieve fame) is so obviously contrived and for no good reason as far as nature, evolution and humanity is concerned. When he finally asks at the end of a long discussion “are you hitting on me?”, I died.
As usual, his quest goes to an extreme as he explores fake heterosexual expression among a group of hunters, who could not be less tolerant of homosexual behavior. There’s something blissful about his comments as they put the macho hunters ill at ease around the campfire. Not to mention his approach to their tents, naked.
Okay, about his genitals, I didn’t need to see them (because, while I don’t mind it, that level of visual is beyond what I consider appealing). But then again, so what if I did? At this point in time, why do we care so much about whether we see a penis or not? If anything, it’s nice to know a guy is trying to put that stuff on the table when women have been exploited for their chests for how long. Magazine racks and movies will attest.
Finally, the story arch as it dips beautifully upon the reunion of Bruno with his assistant. I don’t want to give it away but really there is something about this scene that doubtless creates a mixture of emotion in anyone who has followed the film. There is something real about his assistant in the midst of all of the plastic, fanfare, fame-seeking, offense, defense, getting off. And thus, he brings that reality to the movie’s end.
If you like Sacha Baron Cohen. If you want to be in on something like Madonna’s book “Sex.” If you want to explore the dimensions of life in terms of what people value and defend, just watch Bruno.