By Ben Lindner, Contributor
[Amazon Studios; 2020]
The sequel is growing in popularity, and most of the time, these movies feel like a cash grab or a lame attempt to make the original work relevant again. Luckily, this is not the case with Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which brings Borat back at the perfect time and feels like a natural next step from the first movie.
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The film––officially titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan––updates the concept of the original film with even more effective satire of American culture.
The sequel is also different in that it focuses a lot more on the narrative than its predecessor. In this movie, we’re introduced to Borat’s daughter, Tutar, who is just as “backward” as Borat himself. The relationship between the two of them is fleshed out surprisingly well and evolves naturally over the course of the movie, leading to some genuinely heartfelt moments. Even the story-building elements are hilarious, and the focus on narrative is a pleasant surprise.
This structure works well primarily due to Maria Bakalova, who plays Tutar. Bakalova is an absolute star. She plays off Sacha Baron Cohen very well but also holds her own in challenging improvised scenes. A highlight comes when Bakalova interviews Rudy Giuliani in character, leading to a striking scene. Bakalova frankly steals the show from Cohen’s famous titular character and deserves to find even more big roles in Hollywood.
While filming on location, the crew and cast adapted to circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, which closed most everything down. They utilized these circumstances in crafting their story, leading to a funny but chilling scene at a rally that is one of the most memorable, paving the way for a phenomenal cameo with a surprisingly compelling twist.
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm works on several levels. Though the makers could have coasted on the wave of their original work, saying nothing more than “wawaweewa” and “my wiiiife” for 90 minutes, they instead tell a surprisingly compelling story, topped with hilarious moments and sharp cultural critiques.
Watch the trailer here: