Sunday, November 26, 2006

BORAT: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Year: 2006
Dir: Larry Charles
Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer

Ken Davitian, Pamela Anderson

You may have heard this referred to as Jackass meets Fahrenheit 9/11, well that’s almost right as you really do have to see it to believe it. It’s crude, rude and uncomfortably close to the mark, and absolutely hilarious.

Offending just about everyone is Sacha Baron Cohen, as hapless Borat Sagdiyev, the Kazakhstan TV reporter, sent by his government to make a documentary, as the title goes, to discover the ‘cultural learnings of America’, which is exactly what he does.

In this mock documentary, Sacha offers us an amusing and strangely fascinating expose of the psyche of your average American, with the obvious, sometimes vulgar humor, highlighting what’s really on everyone’s mind, as Borat utilizes his right to freedom of speech.

There may have been a warning at the end of the credits stating that no animals were harmed during the making of this film. However, that says nothing about the reputations and careers, or the emotional trauma possibly sustained by the unwitting participants on viewing the final cut. Any cinema manager brave enough to show this is the heart of the US Bible-belt deserves a medal, or at least some police protection!

It isn’t so much what Borat says or does which is revealing, but the reaction he receives from the unfortunate member of the public he comes into contact with. The genius lies in the fact that no one appears to suspect him. Everyone lets down their guard just enough, character flaws appearing on cue, and playing right into Borat/Sacha’s hands.

As for Borat’s apparent conquering of the world, cult seems far too small a word for what Sasha has spawned. Although it’s a strange film to understand in another language, it will be interesting to see how non-English speakers with take to it.

There are staged moments of innocent comedy, like the bear in ice-cream truck. This is so typically old-school-British humor, and seemingly out of place, but there is actually a story here, a bittersweet road-trip, complete with love interest. I said it was crude.

As for the moral of this story, if you ever find yourself being offered cheese by someone purportedly from Kazakhstan, well…you figure it out! The stupid grin on Borat’s face is there for a very good reason; find yourself mimicking it at a cinema near you soon.

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