Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan




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Sacha Baron Cohen reprises his Borat character, the number two journalist in all of Kazakhstan. This is a sequel to the 2006 original Borat film but doesn’t require too much knowledge of the original. Cohen goes back to his old ‘gotcha journalism’ mockumentary techniques in the Trump era America for the Subsequent Moviefilm. Borat may also be the last parody stereotype character in existence for American audiences.

The broad success of the original film brought widespread familiarity with the character of Borat. When Borat finds himself back in the United States there is a montage of hidden camera footage of many people recognizing Borat and chasing him down the street for autographs or pictures. Cohen smartly takes this potential hindrance and flips it on its head by putting the Borat character into costumes; a character playing a character. It brings new life into the Borat character and must have been very difficult for Cohen to pull off.

The best part of the film is Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian born actress playing Borat’s daughter, Tutar. Her character evolves throughout the film and shows a wide range of emotions. Bakalova’s talents are on full display. Throughout the movie, Borat develops previously absent love for his daughter along with respect for all women. It’s a plotline in many other films, but it is expertly woven inside this over the top mockumentary.

The film is full of easter eggs. I had to pause and check the internet a few times. I never knew labiaplasty was a cosmetic procedure. It is never discussed, but it is a line item on a plastic surgery bill below breast augmentation. My favorite easter egg is a carryover from the first film. Borat and Tutar are both thought to be speaking Kazak to each other. Just like in the first film, Cohen speaks Hebrew in place of Kazak. That subversion earned him fans in Israel with the first film despite all the outward anti-Semitic lines. Tutar speaks her native Bulgarian as a stand-in for Kazak. The two leads in the film have plenty of subtitled discussions in ‘Kazak’ on-screen, yet neither of them knew exactly what the other was saying at the time. It is wonderfully subversive.

The film could be seen as having a liberal slant. Borat is trying to give his daughter away to Vice President Pence and eventually Rudy Giuliani. Borat interrupts Pence’s 2020 CPAC speech, lives with a few Q-Anon followers during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, and orders an anti-Semitic cake. Tutar attends a Republican women’s club meeting and talks about masturbation. Together Tutar and Borat attend a ‘pregnancy crisis center’ and interview Rudy Giuliani. There are other pranks in the film that are less politically slanted.

The movie never answers the question ‘is Borat acceptable today?’ Sacha Baron Cohen is an incredibly intelligent writer and a master of subversion. Is Borat so over the top that the caricature of someone from Kazakhstan is acceptable? The mockumentary genre is perfectly designed to allow Cohen to be a true ‘gotcha-journalist.’ I watched this film two days before the US presidential election. I found it funny without being too cringe-worthy. I hope we can all agree that Maria Bakalova is a wonderful actress who deserves many more opportunities on screen.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst