Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm ★★★

Somehow Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is simultaneously better and worse than its predecessor.

As a piece of filmmaking, it achieves much more than the original Borat. There is an actual plot and an emotional core to the story with the relationship between Borat and his daughter. Maria Bakalova is phenomenal in her role as Tutar, and brings genuine pathos as well as humour. It's more focused in its humour and more explicitly political, whilst the original Borat had many political moments these were often matched with Borat wrestling his colleague naked in a hotel. The sequel is fully intended to be political, with Sacha Baron Cohen's anger and frustration with modern America the driving force behind this film. And it captures some moments that seem to encapsulate the bizarre state of politics in America, most notably the sequence with the Q-Anon guys who graciously let the strange foreigner stay with them whilst discussing the idea of giving Democrats less rights than them.

However, the things that I disliked in the original do carry over. I’ve always disliked the prank-style approach that Borat has of goading people, though many participants seem more than willing to display their vulgarity, on occasion it feels more like entrapment. I can’t help but feel sorry for the kind Jeanise Jones as she tried to help, what she thought, was a young woman in need. As well as the minimum-wage shopworkers Borat encounters who just smile and go along with Borat’s ramblings since confrontation is really beyond their pay grade.

However, there is a bigger issue which is I think the world has grown beyond Borat. In the original Borat, there was a sense that Cohen had revealed something unspoken about Americans. But here Borat is not unmasking the unspoken prejudices and hatred lurking in America. These vile people are out and proud in the streets and Borat seems a harmless character in comparison. With the rise of the alt-right and social media we do not need the Borat figure for people to out themselves as bigots. I wish I could find fun at the sight of a semi-naked Sacha Baron Cohen chasing around a once-respected American politician but, in the year 2020, nothing seems to shock anymore.

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