REVIEW: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Borat returns after 14 years.
By Kate Bryony
Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequal has dropped on Amazon Prime. It’s headline-hitting and full of controversy, but at its core, it’s a funny, heartwarming film about changing for the better.
After fourteen years, Borat has returned to the big screen (or small, thanks to coronavirus). He has spent his time since then in a gulag for making the nation of Kazakhstan a laughing stock with his documentary. So, under the instructions of his leader, he heads to the States to try and win over Vice President, Mike Pence, by introducing him to the Minister of Culture, who happens to be a monkey. We are treated with more cleverly executed moments of satire, very much at the expense of the current US administration and its supporters.
Despite the film being announced a month ago, it is already streamable on Amazon Prime. Why the rush to release it? Mostly because, unlike the original film, the focus is on American politics, not just society. The film would not have been nearly as impactful if, come January, its Joe Biden in the White House and Rudy Giuliani is but a distant memory. Nope, now he’s headline news, and the films final message is ready to make its mark. “NOW VOTE. OR YOU WILL BE EXECUTE.” This is, honestly, kind of refreshing from a British perspective. It’s so often the case in the UK that impartiality must be kept at all times, especially on satirical shows. Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t pulling punches anymore and he’s found his perfect target.
Although I could spend all day writing the praises of the film's main stars, it would be very unfair not to mention the “non-actors” we meet along the way. We’re seeing a lot of coverage about this film, mostly just that one scene, but one moment I found particularly interesting was the pair’s trip to the bakers. Even though a baker is well in their right to refuse service, say to a gay couple wanting a wedding cake, this baker is happy to write “the jews will not replace us” surrounded by a multitude of little smiley faces, dotted around the anti-Semitism like nazi sprinkles. It’s almost so absurdly unreal that it's hilarious until you realise it is real which is soul-destroying.
Many of these (not)actors provide some of the most touching moments in the film, Jeanise Jones clearly cared about Tutar, even if she wasn’t actually real. Its people like Jeanise, and late Holocaust survivor, Judith Dim Evans, that actually give the film its humanity and heart. These women were kind, caring, and completely empathic with Bakalova and Baron Cohen respectively, even when they were not doing the same in return. Its highlights, really, the absolute divide we face as a culture. We see a holocaust survivor hug an anti-semite (albeit a fake one) and then a few scenes later we see an anti-lockdown crowd sing about injecting journalist, WHO, scientists, and many others with the “Wuhan flu”.
The film is, of course, a film. Despite its worrying revelations and its hard-hitting message, it is entertaining, funny, and thought-provoking. Not only does it shock and make you cry laughing, but it’s also paved the way for an amazingly talented young comedian. Although its jokes are almost too current for it to age well in any way, I can’t help but feel like this film is important. At its heart, it’s a movie about change and growth. It's oddly comforting to see the final scene, with everything just about working out. In a time when satire is futile, at least Borat and Tutar got their happy ending.
- Kate Bryony (@BryonyKate)