"THE BROWN BUNNY" (2005): A MOVIE REVIEW
by Dane Youssef
"AN ART FILM... WITH NOTHING TO SAY"
"THE BROWN BUNNY" plays out like an Andy Warhol-inspired exercise that was warped into a vanity project. It's like a home movie on a family road trip where nothing is really going on and whoever has the camera is just killing time out of boredom
Some moments are quietly effective and inspire little musings in our heads. But far too much feels like something little that a brown bunny left behind... that's also brown.
Either the bunny or Gallo. He serves as writer, director, producer, composer and cinematographer. I think there's more, but I just don't have time.
The film stars Gallo as Bud Clay, a professional motorcycle racer going on one big long odyssey on the road to his old haunts to rediscover himself.
He will uncover a lot of things along the way, particularly that he is trapped inside a movie that just plain isn't very good.
Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" is a self-indulgent exercise in futility. Although Gallo may consider this a compliment, I mean the making of the film itself, not this hero's story. So masturbatory, I actually wished I was blind before I was even 1/4 of the way through.
But it could have been. If Gallo had cut more of the scenes (and I don't just mean a few), put some music down on the soundtrack, shown more of the beautiful outdoor landscapes... and less of the interior of the car, Gallo himself just sitting there, preening. Striking a model-like pose in long, long, unbroken shots that feel endless. There's no internal monolouge voice-over. We're just staring at this guy for what feels like hours on end.
Like they're a half-hour long. Gallo is a strikingly good-looking European man, but not nearly so that we can watch him for that long without getting itchy and restless.
You kind of wish the filmmaker (and there's only one--Gallo himself) had conjured up more music and put it on the soundtrack. Some more music might have helped pump up a lot stillborn scenes.
My description of the the first 3/4's of the film torturous boredom doesn't even begin to do it justice. Gallo keeps the entire "Brown Bunny" moving at the pace of moss growing on a tree or rock.
There's a lot of flat, still dialouge with a lot of dramatic pauses (in a pathetic attempt to pump it up), the acting isn't much (except for Gallo and Sevigny) and the long, unbroken static shots with Gallo is staring off into the distance (which there are more than TOO MUCH of) inspired me to itch so much, I thought I came down with a horrible rash.
Hell, at one point, I actually wanted to throw things right at the screen. No lie, it actually came to mind--I would rather see some of the lowest points of "Howard The Duck" than look at Gallo's god dammed face for three more seconds.
Yes, that's how bad it got.
I know that the cut of the movie that was screened at Cannes (the film was not finished yet, but Gallo was pushed into releasing it) was indefinitely worse. But although I think that much of the editing was for the better (from what I've heard, it was vital), Gallo still needed to cut a few more scenes out of the movie and lay some more music here and there.
Despite talent on Gallo's part and some ambition to tell a worthwhile story, "Brown Bunny" moves at the pace of moss growing, no one throughout the film as a character is particularly intriguing or well-developed, not even Gallo's own character (the exception is Chloe Sevigny) and there are too many slow spot where we're just waiting for something, anything to happen.
We don't have any idea exactly what Bud is thinking most of the time (or God help us, Gallo even). Maybe we're supposed to figure it out for ourselves. Perhaps Gallo wants our minds to speculate and wander. Is he leaving the thoughts of this odyssey up to our imagination? Or did he just not think this one through.
I was often bored and shifting back-and-forth in my seat, all throughout (except for the ending). I thought the movie needed more scenes of dialouge, more moments where Bud and those he encounters on his journey interact.
Also, much of the dialouge throughout every scene throughout the film was written is so badly recorded, I couldn't understand a word they were saying. I had to turn on the SUBTITLES just to understand what the hell they were saying.
I'm capable of appreciating a deep, slow-paced movie. But this one isn't just slow, it's d.o.a.
Many European filmmakers know how to make a slow movie work like a chess match or a staring contest, so that even when nothing is happening, it FEELS like Hell itself is breaking loose. Gallo obviously hasn't mastered that himself. He should have seen more of their work and studied it before putting "The Brown Bunny" into effect.
The late, great Stanley Kubrick himself defined and cornered the market on quietly brooding, suspenseful films. I would suggest Gallo pop in some of HIS movies in if he ever wants to make another movie in this vein.
But Gallo himself has admitted he is no filmmaker--or artist. In any sense of the word. He is a hustler. A Midnight Cowboy of sorts. He has acted, modeled, directed, wrote, painted... have I painted enough of a picture myself?
He is a man of innumerable talents. But he has no major. He hawks his skills to whatever at any given moment. He may not be a household name, but those that do know his name... look at him as something a little more than mortal.
Ted Curson, Jackson C. Frank, Vincent Gallo are credited for the musical score. At least Gallo admitted he needed some outside help there.
Reformed supermodel Cheryl Diggs doesn't really provide anything else but filler to kill the static. Hey, maybe she serves a vital purpose after all.
Chloe Sevigny ("Kids" and "Trees Lounge") is such a good actress and has such a touching character, it's a damn crime against cinema she doesn't have more scenes. She should have been such a more sustantial part of the film. She is a part of the fourth act where the comatose "Brown Bunny" almost bursts to life.
At the end of it all, there is the smallest ray of hope. Not just for Gallo's character, but for Gallo. And us. And his film. And what of that brown bunny that sits in the cage? That holds the film's prominent title? What of it? What's it's story?
I would have loved to see this world through it's eyes. What would it have to say? Do you wonder... ?
--For That Dear Little Chocolate Rabbit, Dane Youssef