starring Vincent Gallo, Chloe Sevigny, Cheryl Tiegs
written and directed by Vincent Gallo
Editor's Note: Roger Ebert responded to this capsule in his print review when The Brown Bunny was finally released to theatres. It sicced his readers on me, which I deserved; I particularly regret my cheap shot at his weight. Fortunately, I met up with him at a TIFF screening of Saw a few weeks later and it was water under the bridge. (He even told a joke: when I asked if he was "seeing Saw," he said, "I thought I'd teeter-totter instead.") I often wonder if I actually liked The Brown Bunny, or just wanted to be an iconoclastic asshole. What I do know is that I really miss Roger Ebert. Be sure to check out Walter Chaw's own review of the film, as well as his interview with Vincent Gallo.
by Bill Chambers "They're getting a little warm in their sweaters," David Lynch said of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert when they panned his Kafkaesque Lost Highway. And Ebert finally combusted at last May's Cannes Film Festival when he threw stones at the glass arthouse that is Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny; you'll note, however, that he never did mount a convincing case against it. Instead, Ebert catalogued his mainstream biases (unbroken takes: bad; non-classical structure: bad; name actresses being aggressively sexual: bad), made a crack about the esoteric tastes of the French (who legitimized his field of film criticism--oh well, phooey on them), and then had a bigger delusion of grandeur than The Brown Bunny's Gallo-centric credit assignations: "I will one day be thin but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of The Brown Bunny." At worst, The Brown Bunny suggests a student film, that sensation often aggravated by the fact that Gallo, who also stars, was his own cinematographer--shots give off the impression of Dad setting the camera timer and then running into the frame, although Gallo has never looked more handsome. The picture is like the plastic-bag scene in American Beauty, minus the disingenuousness--there it's just foreplay, after all, but Gallo, his cobalt eyes frozen in gawk, is truly receptive to the mundane; his awe is infectious. (His character's name, Bud Clay, implies both malleability and oneness.) Bud is on his way to a motorcycle race in California, a trip that brings him closer to the memory of a lost love (Chloë Sevigny), and their foreordained reunion--which, yes, includes graphic fellatio--is the essence of a man in a quiet room with his pain. If such wounded passages fail to resonate with Ebert, I can only envy his charmed life--though in his defense, the version of The Brown Bunny I saw ran thirty minutes shorter. Programme: Visions