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The Brown Bunny

90' 2003 USA - Japan - FRANCE + + + +

An unsettling journey with this unexpected style is perfect to change our minds on cinema, to commit ourselves into a new experience, and walk in the steps of a filmmaker with a vision to share and who refuses to please our hopes for entertainment (dream, excitment, mystery and fun). The message is grave, bleak, paced, yet ultimately subtle and powerful.

warning : no, this film isn't entertainment. If you want time killer cinema, just dont go! No need to buy a ticket and complain afterward...


Vincent Gallo the actor : well, ok, this guy is a megalomaniac... he looks at himself acting way too much! he should relax and free himself from this self consciousness. this is frustrating because it seems he makes this film for himself above all. aside from this, and the close ups on himself are not part of this complaint, Gallo doesnt give himself a flaterring role, even the camera framing isnt flaterring for his image. and even tho he is the only real character of the film, he doesnt get half of the screening time. lots of landscape, cars, motos, or large plans where Gallo is only a tiny detail, sometimes out of focus.
what debunks all the bashing on his personality is how humble and profound is this film. after the ego trip of Buffalo '66, Gallo erases his personality from the film and truly organize the whole film around the character, and not Vincent Gallo the star. this road trip into the couple psychology, metaphysic solitude, uncommunicability, relationship disorder...
the character is a self-centered prick who hides his feelings if he has any, and look down on women. this is a courageous self-derision from Gallo.

Vincent Gallo the filmmaker : it is very interesting to watch the guy who wrote and directed the film, acting in his own film. a direct bound between the creator and the audience, without compromises, without go-between. it's like a one-man-made film.
i enjoyed a lot this connection with the filmmaker.
the filmmaker doesnt emphasis on the actor, like i said earlier, he really create a universe around the character. i dont think there is much subjective plans, if any. the camera is an outside voyeur look on this man's intimate thoughts.
there isnt tracking shots either. the camera shifts from place to place, like a sniper targetting his victim from the most unexepected angles, through many layers of objects between the camera and the subject. this doesnt help the readability of the image, because we dont see what the main character is doing full screen (like we are used to in mainstream conventions), but it gives us time and opportunity to think about things that are not rubbed on our face : diegetic narration : the story told from the outside of the character, by showing the universe and situations where the character evolves.
the technical/artistic aspect is avant-gardist. the experimental frame composition is awkward but powerful. the van becomes an interior of the character, a frame shielding him from the outside world. this tight space, so familiar to all of us, on the roads, becomes a world of its own, and the context seem to be meaningless to him, distant, out of reach. the sound editing is awesome also! a nice selection of non-commercial music like a playlist of the autoradio of a long journey. background noises, engine noises, appropriate silent sequences...
references : during the film i was thinking a lot to Gerry, which tells a different story but use the same angle. and now i'm think of Lynch's A Straight Story.


It's difficult to talk about the story without spoilers... and to comment the film without the ending makes it sound very dull and pointless. the climax makes the whole journey worthwhile and also much significant in retrospect!
the french release is only 90 minutes, so the films has been edited and amputed of 29 minutes from the original world premiere in Cannes last year... I wonder what was left out. For instance the cute pic with Gallo on motorbike racing toward the camera on the Salt Lake race track is not in the version i've seen. the scene is there but this plan is cut...

I assume the shorter editing helped to make the film smoother. i wasnt bored one bit. but that's because during the long silent fixed shot, my mind was running many reflexions on the film itself, the message of the filmmaker, and cinema in general.

The end credit is almost a typical Dogma95 un-crediting list, in fact the film could fit in... i wonder what Gallo thinks of this anti-hollywood movement from Scandinavia.



apparently some people didnt know what kind of film they came to watch... a dozen people left the theatre before the first hour! some were laughing hystericaly on the way out.
and i heard somebody who stayed untill the end complain : "there is not even background music on the end credit!" lol

the urban legend : seriously, i dont understand why this film would be booed by a cinephile crowd at a festival, and flamed by the critics... maybe only for the arrogant personality of its filmmaker. i doubt it had gotten this much (anti-)publicity if the filmmaker was a nobody from an unknown country, in fact it would have been praised for a fresh vision and another new wave of the next cinema to come.

This film is very sensible and deeper behind a very boring surface. yes it fucks up with every mainstream cinema rules of narration, pacing, and plot cues! and i bless it for that. personaly i find this kind of demanding research much more interesting than a dandy walkthrough with the regular mainstream film.
the flaws : ok, i admit the film isnt flawless, there are many issues with some shots if we look in details, but the overall impression is coherent and these flaws are part of the ensemble to create a certain mood in the viewer's attention.
yes there are overlong close up's of Gallo's ear, yes there are long shots through a dirty windshield, sometimes unfocused, yes there is very few dialogue, yes there are pointless scenes. but all thi is only detrimental if what we want is a formated cinema sanitized by the mainstream stereotypes.
i think these flaws belong to the film, like some kind of cinéma-vérité, improvisation, amateur truth. it is a careful stylish art direction building up a powerful atmosphere.



2004 - Vincent Gallo - USA / Japan / France

Directing : Vincent Gallo
Scenario : Vincent Gallo
Photo : Vincent Gallo
Editing : Vincent Gallo
Production : Vincent Gallo
Music : Vincent Gallo
Costume : Vincent Gallo

Cast : Vincent Gallo, Chloé Sevigny


Selected in Cannes 2003

Content : + +
Playwright : + +
Mise en scene : + + +
Craft : + + +
Inspiration : + + + +



Opening Sequence

A motorbike race track shot from outside, following Gallo on his bike, with loud engine sounds. He loses the race and hits the road. No dialogue.

2004 © SCREENVILLE * HarryTuttle