The Heart of Bruno Wizard is a raw feature documentary from first time director Elisabeth Rasmussen. The film dives into a little known pocket of the British punk scene during the late 1970’s to find Bruno Wizard, the uncompromising singer of The Homosexuals. In his present state he faces bleak homelessness and serious health problems. The film bares its low budget flaws for all to see and fails to truly dramatize Bruno’s predicament; yet it also captures his life with real intimacy.
The character of Bruno makes most sense when informed by his own amusing words “I changed the name of my band from The Rejects to The Homosexuals, to keep the major labels away from us.” What Bruno specifically strives for never becomes entirely clear in The Heart of Bruno Wizard, but that is less the fault of the film than simply a part of Bruno himself. Bruno knows what he does not want to associate himself with, more than what he does. The tendency to reject the norm is perhaps the characteristic that lead him into homelessness, but it also makes him an endearing and interesting character with real integrity.
Rasmussen’s film does suffer from teething problems familiar in early, low budget filmmaking attempts. The film is constructed with a wide variety of interviews that are assembled haphazardly in awkwardly framed shots. The interviews are informative though and Rasmussen achieves great access, with contributions from luminaries in the British music scene including singer Marilyn, DJ Don Letts and former Homosexuals member Susan Vida, as well as American animator M. Henry Jones. The group place Bruno in context, which makes his present life of illness and poverty all the more affecting.
The finest moments in the film are the snapshots of Bruno now. After some time spent sleeping on the streets, Bruno checked himself into a homeless shelter and gradually managed to obtain his own flat in London. Having finally moved in Rasmussen captures him furnishing his home at a hilariously gradual pace, initially sleeping in a cupboard instead of a bed. Bruno’s enormous appreciation for his cupboard is both touching and humbling, as Rasumssen helps us realise the privilege of possessing such amenities.
Rasumssen is so dedicated in her desire to portray Bruno that she forgoes any distinct style of her own, which could have strengthened the film. There is passion within her filmmaking though and her ability to connect with characters is an essential filmmaking quality. In an interview she said working with Bruno helped her give up her fears; a theme he staunchly endorses. If making The Heart of Bruno Wizard was a process of discovery for her, then she may well be on the way to finding a voice. Lets see where this young director decides to go next.