Thursday 21 December 2017


Augusto (Vladimir Brichta), a down on his luck actor with an occasional career in software pornography just wants to find a steady gig so that he can help provide for his son. Heading into an audition for a daytime soap opera at one of Brazil's largest networks, when he sees the line of clowns headed into a different stage area he decides to try out for that instead. Using his natural charisma to impress the American "gringo" in charge of the show, he then quickly becomes a firm favourite with the young audience. But as the fame of his character starts to go to his head, Augusto begins to indulge in all of the excesses you wouldn't expect from a children's television personality. Except maybe Richard Bacon.

Following the Boogie Nights template closely, Bingo: The King of the Mornings is able to offer a compelling story due to the performance of Vladimir Brichta as Bingo. He's got the portrayal of the sad clown nailed, and as a man driven by his hunger for the fame he isn't allowed to have without wearing face paint, it's in many ways a typical tale of 80s greed.

The 80s setting helps sell that this quite old fashioned show would be a draw for audiences. One nice touch is that the subtitles also look like they are straight from the 80s; like they're providing some VHS tracking info. Based on the true scenario of the transposition of the Bozo the Clown character to Brazil in the early 1980s, if one things smacks of inauthenticity it's that it's hard to believe any parent allowing their child to watch this terrifying show. In a year that has given us Pennywise the Clown in Andy Muschetti's adaptation of IT, even Stephen King's creation would have to doff his cap towards Bingo in the terrifying stakes.

The feature directorial debut of Daniel Rezende, whose most notable work has previously been as editor of such films as City of God, it's undeniable that Bingo is a handsome looking film. The 80s stylings never seem forced or for comic effect, and as Augusto frequents the seedier parts of town to indulge in his reckless lifestyle, it's always shot with style. Bingo: The King of the Mornings, the Brazilian BAFTA contender for Best Film not in the English Language, may use its over-sized clown shoes to tread familiar ground, but it's delivered with style and a disconcertingly sinister smile on its face.


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