Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Brown Bunny (2004)

Alternate title: This is a Long Drive for Someone with Too Much to Think About. If Buffalo '66 is the manic side of Vincent Gallo, this is the depressive side. It's a quietly sad portrait of loneliness and isolation, and it contains a rather brave performance from Vincent Gallo (as well as a rather accomodating one from Chloe Sevigny). It is also, indeed, for much of the film not about anything other than Gallo driving across country, and that's where the film loses most people. Something this minimal is obviously not going to be for everyone, but of all the films for people to dogpile this one just feels wrong. I can understand the hostile reception of something like Twentynine Palms (a film that, among other things, often feels like an extended middle finger to the viewer), but to tear this thing apart... I dunno. This film is just so plaintive and fragile that hatred seems like an impossible reaction. It's a film about a man trapped in the past, and Gallo surrounds that emotional state with a straight-from-the-'70s aesthetic that makes perfect sense. Let's be honest: Even if you're not down with the pacing of the journey, the driving scenes are often lovely to watch. Then, of course, there is the infamous scene at the end, which I think works -- the explicit physical aspect of it complements the sheer emotional nakedness of what is revealed to actually be happening. It's this scene that, because of the literalness of what it shows, gets Gallo accused of narcissism more than any other, which just goes to show that people don't pay attention to the words they use anymore. If narcissism is excessive self-love, how could anybody with half a brain tag that onto Gallo on the basis of this film? I can't think of a film I've seen recently that was more self-castigating than this. What we have here, basically, is Vincent Gallo tearing himself apart onscreen and handing you his heart on a platter. It may be emo, but it feels wrong to reject such a sincere gesture.

Grade: B


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