Preview by: Jack Foley
IT'S been hailed as, possibly, the worst picture to screen for
a decade at the Cannes Film Festival and prompted critics to boo
its director at the festival press conference, so don't expect
Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, to be appearing on UK cinema
screens for a long time yet - if ever, in fact.
The movie, which was shown in competition at the showpiece event,
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 while the plot sounds intriguing, critics apparently openly
guffawed at the screening, before groaning at the highly graphic
oral-sex scene at the end.
Gallo, who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film,
has subsequently pledged never to direct again... and even apologised
to the movie's distributors and financers for the disaster it
The reaction to The Brown Bunny is a million miles away from
the acclaim which greeted his first film as director, the arthouse
hit, Buffalo 66, yet continues the love-hate relationship that
journalists seem to enjoy with the oddball star.
His last film, the French vampire flick, Trouble
Every Day, also courted controversy for scenes of graphic
violence and warped sex - it, too, culminated with an oral sex
scene, with Gallo feasting on a maid's vagina (literally).
Gallo, though, remains unapologetic for his persona, stating:
"I have learned to deal with the fact that I'm not popular.
It comforts me. I'm not looking for popularity, I don't even want
a career and even less so, a place on Hollywood's power list."
Talking about the film itself, however, he told the Cannes press
conference: "When I said it's not autobiographical, what
I meant was that this is not a display of Vincent Gallo's idea
of sex, Vincent Gallo's idea of a relationship, etc.
"What makes a film personal is that there are points of
view that I have personal feelings about. There are experiences
that I've shared. There are conflicts that I understand. I build
those into a whole character, into a whole narration. (...) I
hope the work transcends my reasons for making it.
"So, to sit up here and talk about my film as if I had intellectual
control over it, as if I had complete objectivity and a complete
sense of what it is I wanted to say, I think it would be dishonest
and unrealistic. (...) But, my best work, the best things that
I'll ever do in my life will be far more interesting than me and
my reasons for doing them."
And on the sexual aspect of the film, he noted: "I was not
interested in eroticism or pornography, or anything like that.
But, I had a long-time concept that what people do physically
in their sexual behavior is extremely contrasting to what they
think they're doing, or how the impression is emotionally or in
"When you see the most basic performances, or activities,
that people do sexually, I find it bizarre or odd when I look
at it. I mean, if I look at it in eroticism or in displays that
are meant to be exciting or titillating, it has one reference.
"But, when I see myself accidentally or I look down, and
when I look at things, I find it quite unusual. I thought that
in making a movie and including this graphic scene, when I wrote
the script, I couldn't imagine this scene in any other way. I
couldn't understand how I could separate the concept of watching
what people do physically and understanding what they're going
through emotionally. I didn't see a way to separate them.
"I wasn't motivated to separate them. I never thought about
separating them. (...) I'm not personally an exhibitionist. I
don't like to be naked or looked at in any way. I don't photograph
myself that way. I don't like the idea of men and women together,
physically detached from intimacy."
However, given the reaction to the film, and the fact that he
was booed during the press conference, he went on to state: "I'll
never make another movie again. I mean it...
"Being booed at was not much fun. It's really not very nice
that people are so nasty. I'm very disappointed...
"It's a disaster of a film, and it was a waste of time.
I apologize to the financiers, but it was never my intention to
make a pretentious film, a self-indulgent film, a useless film,
or an unengaging film," he said.
Ironically, Gallo had been looking forward to coming to Cannes,
stating at the same press conference that: "I've always dreamed
of coming to Cannes. I was really disappointed I don't
know why exactly because I'm not the person who wants to be invited
to the party but I really wanted to come to Cannes desperately
with Buffalo '66.
"I was very disappointed and very hurt and ashamed in the
American indie cinema scene. So, I was very honored to be able
to participate in the Festival, especially in France because the
level of interest in cinema is so compatible with my own interest
Needless to say, The Brown Bunny has not been scheduled for a
US or UK release as yet, but we will keep an eye on things and
keep Gallo fans informed.