As talented a writer and performer as Sacha Baron Cohen is, the success of Borat always came down to one thing: its ability to shock. The moments where Borat’s clueless racism and sexism encouraged America to expose its dark side were truly electric, creating moments of cinematic truth that could have happened no other way.

Sadly, and incredibly, America has sunk so low in the last few years that the kind of bigotry that once felt outrageous is now proudly paraded on national TV. Once it would have been a shock to see a crowd singing about their hope that Obama catches the ‘Wuhan Flu’. Today it would barely make Twitter’s trending topics. Through no fault of his own Sacha Baron Cohen has lost his trump card, but that’s not to say Borat has lost his touch. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is at its best when it’s a provocative prank show, forensically picking apart issues of gender and race.

Borat’s daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) adds a genuinely feminist angle, with one scene revealing the depressing sexual repression amongst a group of middle-aged women, taught that the only pleasure that matters is a man’s. These poignant comedy moments are hampered by Borat’s heavy-handed characterisation as a backwards Kazakh who believes in keeping women in cages. Reality is miserable enough already.

Most of the big set-pieces also fall flat, including the Giuliani scene currently making headlines. They feel directionless in what is already quite an unfocused film.

Borat’s larger-than-life caricatures of extremist views have never been more relevant in this age of fake news, but they also require more nuance than ever to find their targets. Trump may look like the easiest target of all, but paradoxically, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm succeeds most in its intimate moments, revealing the minds of those who probably voted for Trump rather than the man himself.



CAST: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova, Nicoleta Ciobanu, Luenell, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pence

DIRECTOR: Jason Woliner

WRITERS: Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Swimer (screenplay); Anthony Hines, Nina Pedrad, Dan Swimer (story); Sacha Baron Cohen (based on character created by); Nick Corirossi (additional writing)

SYNOPSIS: Follow-up film to the 2006 comedy centring on the real-life adventures of a fictional Kazakh television journalist named Borat.