Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The poorly executed Ali G Indahouse seemed to stymie Sacha Baron Cohen’s big screen ambitions, yet Borat appears set to make him Hollywood’s new Peter Sellers. Forget that unsatisfying turn as Talladega Nights’ Gallic gay racing driver, because Borat represents a depth of comic character inhabitation previously unseen in cinema. While Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries are a benchmark, they rely on ensemble performances. This has only Borat, his producer Azamat (Ken Davitian) and countless confused real Americans. The manner in which Baron Cohen maintains a straight face while babbling his racist, homophobic and sexist gibberish at them is a true joy to behold, especially when some respond in kind.
Where Indahouse merely transplanted and overstretched a TV character over a film narrative, Borat wisely maintains the original television format of fake interviews, stringing them together as a series of road movie vignettes. After priceless opening scenes in his home village, Borat travels to the US, initially to report on American customs, yet later, to make Pamela Anderson his wife. On his way he encounters Americana head on, releasing a chicken on the New York subway, singing the Kazak national anthem at a rodeo in Virginia, meeting frat boys, feminists, street gangs, socialites, Christians and rednecks. He insults women, gays, gypsies, Jews and the mentally handicapped at every turn, yet remains an endearing innocent abroad, even when wrestling naked in a packed conference suite.
Directed by Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm producer Larry Charles, Borat is sharply edited and brilliantly performed, eliciting constant belly laughs. The film beautifully balances the tickling of liberal ideals with jabbing fun at a swarthy misguided foreigner and stupid Americans, featuring some criminally funny moments and an admirable aim to satirise absolutely everyone. Hi five indeed!
General release from Fri 3 Nov.