Film Review – Bingo: The King of the Mornings

Sex, Drugs, Tumble ‘n Roll

There might be a picture of a kid’s clown on the poster for truly excellent ‘Bingo: The King of the Mornings’ (2017), but this definitely isn’t one for all the family to sit round watching after Christmas dinner, but in the spirit of the pure mischievous joy that permeates the movie, it would greatly honour all involved if you did turn it on (when you buy the Blu-ray), sit back and watch the jaws hit the floor. It will also guarantee you not hosting Christmas next year, Bingo!

Not being of Brazilian origin, I didn’t know the story behind one of the most successful TV series ever in it’s history, but my what a story it is, indeed if it wasn’t actually true (though the truth is remixed here somewhat), it would never be believed. It’s also not in the least bit surprising that the brand owners of the actual series it’s based on (Bozo) didn’t give the rights to use the name, as a possible UK equivalent might be Mr Blobby being outed as a recent ex porn star, for that is what Bingo was. Well the person who played him, not the actual clown, but I’ve zero doubt there must be some old coke dusted Betamax videos knocking around Brazil somewhere.

Augusto Mendes (the brilliant Vladimir Brichta) is a charismatic and ‘talented’ soft porn star just going through the motions. Coming from a family of very successful TV stars he not only has high (& getting high) ambitions, but being effectively a stage school kid he’s eagerly and constantly waiting for his money shot moment. But despite his ambition and zero doubt in his destiny, he’s still just fluffing.

Adding to his cocaine heaped spinning plate of a world is the constant annoyance of his ex wife being the star of Brazil’s number one TV daytime drama show. But he wants the best for his adoring son, so any and every opportunity must be grasped, hugged, tickled and groped. Also setting the goals for Brazilian domination is his mum who was one of the countries biggest ever stars. So basically your average family setting.

Read Steve’s review of The Immortal Blade >

After a number of pratfalls, Augusto picks up a passing opportunity to audition for an American kids series that is about to establish a local franchise. Hugely successful back in the States, the creator is in town to find his Brazilian Bingo, and given Augusto’s experience, he successfully rises to the occasion. Thankfully the studio executive doesn’t actually speak Portuguese, so it gives Augusto an angle for getting the most (lurid) laughs out of any situation and it’s ever so slightly a bit more than a ‘bit of blue’ that he introduces to kids TV.

Like a true method actor Augusto researches and hones his talents, especially hoovering up drugs and alcohol as the success of the series grows. But there’s a deal with the devil aspect to it all. Having grown up wanting to emulate the success and recognition of his mum, his contract demands that he never divulges he is Bingo. And so begins the real self destructive tears of a clown.

Set in the 1980s there is a beautifully rich library of hyper colours and songs that despite it being set on another continent it looks equally at home to anyone who grew up watching TV in the UK or Ireland. Director Daniel Rezende does a fantastic job in his directorial debut (though he has been an extremely successful editor for years and was Oscar nominated for ‘City of God’) of presenting a jacked up environment that truly shows the (extremely fast coke fuelled) beating heart behind the clown powdered face. There is a genuine tragedy in achieving a goal, but in many ways not being able to enjoy it. Of course it’s psychological issues in that Augusto seeks the adulation of the crowd, and unless he’s got his red nose on, no one knows who he is, just some clown saying he’s The Clown.

It’s all pure chaotic and unabashed reckless joy. Like any truly amazing night out, it’s probably a less than factual recollection of the events, but what a bloody AWESOME night. It looks fantastic, a wonderful soundtrack that tries to give ‘The Breakfast Club’ a run for it’s money, both really funny and poignant with Vladimir not only making a success of the character he’s playing but the entire movie too, he really is an actor who is going to go to great heights. Despite all the extremes that might be on show there is an inherent human truth to what is all going on, where we might be smiling to the world, but inside we’re screaming, there’s plenty of wonderful madness, but relatable vulnerability too.

8/10 ‘Bingo: The King of the Mornings’ is out now.

Steve Clarke

Born in Celtic lands, nurtured in art college, trained by the BBC, inspired by Hunter S. Thompson and released onto the battlefront of all things interesting/inspiring/good vibes... people, movies, music, clubbing, revolution, gigs, festivals, books, art, theatre, painting and trying to find letters on keyboards in the name of flushthefashion. Making sure it's not quite on the western front... and beyond.