Bingo: The King Of The Mornings Review

bingo king of the mornings
Based on the true story behind the Brazilian incarnation of US children’s TV sensation Bozo the Clown, and the struggles of the man behind the makeup as he copes with the pressures of a hit show, and a contractual requirement to keep his true identity secret.

by David Hughes |
Published on
Release Date:

15 Dec 2017

Original Title:

Bingo: The King Of The Mornings

Imagine you had spent a lifetime hungering for fame, the spotlight, the adoration of audiences – but when you finally achieve stardom, it’s not your face plastered across screens, magazines and merchandise, but your character’s: in other words, nobody knows you’re famous. Such was the fate of Arlindo Barreto, a soft-core porn and bit-part soap actor who, in the 1980s, was chosen as the Brazilian incarnation of children’s TV sensation Bozo the Clown, became a huge star, but was never allowed to tell anyone. It’s an additional irony, even the names have been changed in this film dramatization from the Oscar-nominated editor of Brazilian milestone City Of God – it’s only during the end credits that Barreto finally gets his due.

Christian Bale lookalike Vladimir Brichta is instantly likeable as ‘Augusto Mendes’, an incorrigible chancer who revels in the notoriety of his erotic films, improvises additional lines in daytime soap operas, blags his way into the audition to be Brazil’s own Bingo/Bozo – and lands the gig. With the shadow of his mother, a famous stage actress, looming over him, Mendes longs for a spotlight to call his own, and doesn’t consider the consequences of signing a contract stating that he will never reveal that he is the man behind the makeup, no matter how big his show becomes.

In the tradition of such stories, fame puts a strain on Mendes’ relationships, primarily the one with his estranged son – who, in a corny yet poignant scene, resorts to calling Bingo’s show, live on air, to talk to his increasingly absent father. You don’t have to have seen a ton of films about the high cost of fame to know what ground Bingo is going to cover, but the film’s setting amid the pop art stylings of ‘80s Brazilian TV gives it a fresh coat of day-glo paint, and the charismatic Brichta is a persuasive presence.

Brazil’s entry for this year’s Oscars has little new to say about the perils and pitfalls of stardom, but the talent behind and in front of the camera give the clichés a fresh coat of grease paint.
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