Bingo: The King of the Mornings Review
One of the main problems some people have with biographical films is that they tend to include a lot of generic plot elements and contain a clichéd inspirational message. But the great thing about Bingo: The King of the Mornings - the directorial debut of Daniel Rezende - is it depicts a very interesting and much darker side to stardom and fame, and what those things can drive a person to do.
The film concerns the life of Arlindo Barreto, who decided to star as Bozo the Clown on a kids TV show. But, to avoid copyright claims, the producers of this film replaced the names Arlindo and Bozo with Augusto and Bingo. At the beginning of the story, Augusto (Vladimir Brichta) is an unsatisfied porn star who clearly has a lot of comedic talent, even improvising funny lines in numerous soap operas he soon appeared in. He believes that "wherever there is a spotlight, that is where my stage is", so when he comes across the opportunity to portray a clown on his very own TV show, he seizes the opportunity and wows the crew, although the director named Lucia (Leandra Leal) is less charmed by his vulgar nature.
Augusto also has a son, Gabriel (Cauã Martins), who idolises his father and wants to tell everyone that he is Bingo the Clown. However, the TV executives insist that Augusto's real identity is kept a secret, meaning that Gabriel has to conceal this information from his friends. The crew Augusto now works for are competing with more popular TV stations, and it is Augusto's wildly entertaining portrayal of the central clown that helps their TV show ratings soar. However, Augusto's personal life largely suffers as a result.
Biopics normally portray the central character as an inspiring, uplifting figure, a person who overcomes a traumatic ordeal. But Bingo: The King of the Mornings is more in line with films like The Wolf of Wall Street, in which the main character has a lot of unlikeable characteristics and can be incredibly selfish. There are actually a lot of glaring similarities between Augusto and Jordan Belfort; both rely heavily on drugs, neglect their family life and display an evident lack of respect towards women. Augusto even frequently attempts to seduce Lucia, who has always made her religious beliefs clear and has no interest in a physical relationship with him.
But, like Jordan Belfort, Augusto is still an intriguing character because he is good at what he does and, at least in the earlier stages of the film, is highly motivated to succeed. Beneath all of the hilarity surrounding Bingo the Clown, there is a fascinatingly dark undercurrent to this story. It is crude, often sickening, full of irony and provides the viewer with little hope for the main character; at one point, Lucia even tells Augusto that she hopes that he changes his ways. He simply responds with "It's easier to empty the sea with a bucket".
Vladimir Brichta deserves numerous accolades for his triumphant performance as this strange and complex figure. He manages to make the character both funny and unpleasant; there is not a single moment where you feel like his performance is unconvincing or forced. There are a lot of sides to Augusto's personality and it is not an easy task for an actor to pull all of this off. Not only does Brichta achieve this, he makes it look extremely easy. I can only hope that the Brazilian actor receives the recognition he deserves this awards season.
This is wonderfully directed by Daniel Rezende, and it also contains tremendous cinematography by Lula Carvalho. The scenes where Augusto is portraying Bingo are bright, lively and full of colour, providing a stark contrast to the less colourful scenes away from the TV show set. There are some terrific tracking shots in here too, particularly one that slowly lingers from one window to another. The film not only has a captivatingly bizarre subject matter and includes some remarkable acting, it is also visually impressive.
If you are sick of generic biopics, Bingo: The King of the Mornings is sure to provide you with something different and fresh. This is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest and most obscure cinematic true stories released in years, but also one of the most engaging. It takes you by surprise and certainly stays with you once it's over.