Bingo: The King of the Mornings

 

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A Brazilian clown who wants to make you laugh and cry.

 
Bingo: The King of the Mornings

  

In its concluding moments this film from Brazil directed by Daniel Rezende and written by Luiz Bolognesi is at pains to point out that it was inspired by the life of one Arlindo Barreto. This is so despite the end credits containing the familiar qualification about elements of fictionalisation and, indeed, as filmed the story hardly suggests real life since it is such a hodge podge, one in which style and tone pass through a range of inconsistent modes.

 

The first half of Rezende’s film set in the 1980s is largely devoted to showing us how an actor named Augusto Mendes (a role very well taken by Vladimir Brichta) manages to triumph on television in an early morning show for kids. With full clown’s make-up on and with a clause in his contract that insists that his identity be kept secret, he becomes Bingo in a programme based directly on an American model that has won worldwide acclaim. At first this literal adaptation fails to catch on, but then Augusto, never one to hold back, adds a touch of the naughty and risqué and energises the while thing: his Bingo is now the king of the morning shows.

 

This aspect of the film could be seen as one to appeal to a young audience but for the fact that this movie is not available to them. The real-life Barreto had started out in soft porn and Bingo: The King of the Mornings keeps to that and throws in some strong language thus earning a 15 certificate. At the same time reality seems to be left far behind in the totally unlikely depiction of the events that lead to Augusto being cast. Treat the film as a satire and that could just about be excused, although even then the satire would be stronger if what was being sent up was recognisably closer to credibility.

 

In any case, to make matters worse the film, having been set up as an unrealistic light piece of entertainment, moves on to become a weepie and a drama. The first element is supplied when Augusto, initially portrayed as a divorced but nevertheless wonderful father, allows his career to make him neglect his son Gabriel, well played by Cauã Martins, this being a change of attitude that needed better writing to be persuasive. As for the drama, Augusto turns to alcohol and cocaine in what is presented as a tragic decline regardless of the fact that this would only work dramatically if the establishing scenes had been realistic. But having taken this turn the film moves in yet another direction at the close. Now, despite Augusto’s behaviour (including a bet that he can seduce his virginal producer Lucia played by Leandra Leal), we are asked to believe that Lucia still retains her unlikely love for him. Indeed, there’s even a hint of his embracing both her and her religious beliefs as part of a happy ending. Despite its incidental pleasures (and Rezende’s directorial debut contains some  striking visual touches), Bingo: The King of the Mornings never coheres enough to be a film that satisfies as a whole, let alone one that justifies its choice as Brazil’s Oscar contender.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Vladimir Brichta, Leandra Leal, Tainá Müller, Augusto Madeira, Ana Lücia Torre, Emanuelle Araújo, Pedro Bial, Domingos Montagner, Soren Hellerup, Fernando Sampaio, Cauã Martins.

 

Dir Daniel Rezende, Pro Caio Gullane, Fabiano Gullane and Debora Ivanov, Screenplay Luiz Bolognesi with Fábio Meira, Ph Lula Carvalho, Art Dir Cassio Amarante, Ed Márcio Hashimoto, Music Beto Villares, Costumes Verônica Julian.

 

Gullane/Warner Brothers/Empyrean Pictures/TV Cultura-Miracle Communications.
114 mins. Brazil/USA. 2017. Rel: 15 December 2017. Cert. 15.