Bingo: The King of the Mornings is a Brazilian biographical drama based largely on the true story (bar a few name changes) of one Arlindo Barreto who went from acting in soft-porn movies to become one of the most famous characters on Brazilian morning TV in the early 80s as Bozo the clown.
The directorial feature debut of BAFTA-winning editor of City of God, Daniel Rezende, this is Brazilian film as never seen before: drenched in sleaze, bursting with colour and seething with irreverence, Bingo takes its audience on a rollercoaster ride through the rise and fall of one man’s search for fame via Brazil’s 80s pop culture.
Vladimir Brichta, already a screen star in his native Brazil, delivers a career-changing physical and emotional performance, bringing an electric, frenetic energy to the lead character of Augusto Mendes. He both hilariously and tragically inhabits the unhinged clown and explores the depths and shallows of the man behind the make-up: a cool father and loving son, with an infectious charisma and wicked humour, who also has a penchant for women, cocaine, nicotine and booze at all and any time of the day. Of his improvised performance of the clown, Mendes says: “It’s 70% inspiration, only 30% whisky.”
Breaking out of a tradition of a cinematic genre dominated by politics, violence and social preoccupations, the darkly comic film reminiscent of the award-winning Alejandro G Iñárritu’s Birdman has been an underdog triumph, selected as Brazil’s foreign language entry into the Academy Awards and the BAFTAs. While wholly immersing the viewer in the idiosyncratic world of Brazilian pop culture, the human story touches on themes uncannily relevant to a contemporary universal audience of an obsession with fame, treatment of women and the toll the entertainment industry can take on a life.
We were there at the film’s UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair to speak to Brichta about how he prepared to play the man and the clown, and his experience of playing the role.
Rezende explained his fascination with Barreto’s story and his dedication to faithfully recreating the 80s world of Brazilian pop culture he remembers as a kid, and the film’s producers told us about how the film came to screen against all odds.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 14th December 2017.
Video: Marta Starczynowska
Bingo: The King of the Mornings is released in select cinemas on 14th December 2017.