Sacha Baron Cohen is a comic genius. As Borat Sagdiyev, a TV journalist from Kazakhstan who is the least politically correct character imaginable, Baron Cohen spits out the most outrageous racist and sexist statements he can think of. Yet its the reaction of most of his unknowing victims that proves to be the most interesting aspect of Borat
The defiantly unapologetic and laugh out loud funny Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
is not for the easily offended or for those who dont get Sacha Baron Cohens satirical humor. If even one scene from the trailer or TV commercials has upset you, do not go see Borat
. Nothing is off-limits not feminists, Jewish people, Pentecostals, homosexuals, or politicians. If theres a way to stir the pot and use this shocking mockumentary to make us examine our values, Borat
goes for it.
Speaking in his own particularly bizarre mangled version of English, Borat begins his film by showing the audience around his glorious Kazakhstan, a country with many problems including economic, social and Jew. After introducing us to his wife, hated neighbor, and award-winning prostitute sister, Borat explains a little about his family history (his father was Boltolk the rapist) before he and his producer, Azamat (Ken Davitian), take off for America.
Once in America, Borat proceeds to skewer Western values at every turn. From inquiring of a gun store owner which gun to buy to kill Jews, to carrying on a conversation with the head of a rodeo about killing all homosexuals and then whipping up that rodeo crowd by praising Americas war of terror, Borats just as offensive as the genuinely shocking responses he elicits.
Sacha Baron Cohen in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."© 20th Century Fox
Following his declaration of Kazakhstans support of the murder of all Iraqis, Borat proceeds to inflame the rodeo audience by singing his version of Kazakhstans national anthem to the tune of Americas. Baron Cohen as Borat knows exactly which buttons to push and then just keeps on pushing them.
Its easy to see why some of the innocent people Baron Cohen as Borat encountered while filming Borat are so enraged over being included in his movie. Borat includes a few scenes of people acting like decent human beings. A used car salesman, etiquette coach, humor expert, and driving instructor all come out of their moments with Borat unscathed and with no reason to be ashamed. Others are definitely not so fortunate, and those are the ones that provide the film with its most memorable and alarming - scenes.
Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles dont cheat when it comes to laying it all on the line. Borat is placed in the most volatile situations possible, sometimes barely escaping being hauled off to jail and even once being wrestled to the ground by the police. Yet not once over the course of the film does Sacha Baron Cohen break character. Like him or loathe him, Baron Cohen delivers an absolutely amazing performance and one audiences wont forget. It is without a doubt one of the best performances by an actor in 2006, maybe even of the decade.
As Borats companion on the road, Ken Davitian is so believable as Borats producer its difficult to separate the actor from the role. Theres something raw and astonishing in the way Baron Cohen and Davitian mesh. When the two get involved in a knock-down drag-out fight over Pamela Anderson that begins in their hotel room and ends with the pair getting kicked out of the hotel for making a spectacle of themselves on stage at a business presentation, its pure comic gold. That scene alone is worth the price of a movie ticket.
Baron Cohens brilliant film skewers anti-Semitism and racism while delivering some of the biggest laughs of the year. Borat leaves you chuckling while at the same time thinking about the root causes of prejudice and bigotry, and for that reason Borats a must-see.
Borat was directed by Larry Charles and is rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.
Notes on Sacha Baron Cohen
Baron Cohen remained in character during the entire shoot
Baron Cohen did interviews and other publicity duties as Borat and claimed not to know Baron Cohen.
*Da Ali G Show was commended for its positive effects on race relations by the CRE [Commission for Racial Equality]
*Baron Cohen was involved in the ARA (Anti-Racist Alliance) and marched against fascists and racists in London and against apartheid in the 80s
*Wrote A Case of Mistaking Identities the Jewish Black Alliance as his thesis. The piece examined the nature of cooperation between the African-American and Jewish communities and suggested ways to improve relations in the current day. Baron Cohen's professor described it as a major work of importance on the civil rights movement and is suggested reading for history students in Cambridge.
* Source - 20th Century Fox