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The Brown Bunny - US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

IT'S been well over a year since Vincent Gallo's sexually explicit, The Brown Bunny, was hailed as possibly the worst picture to screen for a decade at the Cannes Film Festival.

The movie tells the tale of Bud Clay, a motorcycle racer (Vincent Gallo), who travels around the United States competing in Formula 11 races, while being haunted by the love of his life Daisy (Chloe Sevigny).

Yet, critics at Cannes openly guffawed at the screening, before groaning at the highly-graphic oral sex scene at the end, prompting Gallo to write it off as 'a disaster of a film', and promising never to make another movie again.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, however, the movie has been released in America - and the word is actually more positive.

Variety, for instance, hailed it to be 'a memorable - if still highly specialized - exercise in personal, '70s-style American filmmaking, with a cohesive feel and rhythm that marks Gallo as a distinctive indie talent'.

While Entertainment Weekly wrote that it 'has the rarefied air of a sophomore indulgence, yet Gallo's talent is there in every frame'.

The New York Post, meanwhile, opined: "As evident from The Brown Bunny and his directing debut, Buffalo 66, Gallo is talented, although in an unconventional way."

However, there were just as many derisory verdicts, from the likes of Hollywood Reporter, which dismissed it as a film 'crude technique and thundering banality'.

Likewise, the Los Angeles Times, which wrote that 'f you think [Gallo's] a brilliant, satirical cut-up, then The Brown Bunny is an elaborate and successful art prank. If you think he's a pretentious, self-obsessed, tedious weirdo, then The Brown Bunny will back you up 100%."

And the New York Daily News, which added: "Gallo was also director, writer, editor and producer, and the ego inherent in that distracts from every frame of this ugly-looking, windshield-splattered road picture."

Worse still was Reelviews, which wrote that 'it's hard to imagine how anyone could appreciate this movie, with its inane, repetitious, and pause-filled dialogue; non-existent plot; and stillborn character definition'.

And BoxOffice Magazine, which wrote it off as a 'self-indulgent voyeuristic exposé'.

Slightly better was the Los Angeles Daily News, which opined: "Gallo has made a credible enough movie about a soul in pain. But he hasn't made a very deep or absorbing one, while simultaneously pumping the thing to bursting with narcissism."

While the New York Times felt that it is 'neither an atrocity nor a revelation, The Brown Bunny is a very watchable, often beautiful-looking film'.

But the final word goes to Premiere Magazine, which concluded: "It’s the best film I’ve seen in a while that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone."


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