The Brown Bunny

The Brown Bunny came to international attention when critics blasted a rough cut of it at last year's Cannes Film Festival.  It was essentially a movie where a guy drove around for a long time, then got a blowjob.  Even more famous was the mini-war of the words between writer/director/star Vincent Gallo and film critic Roger Ebert, which ended with Ebert calling a film of his colonoscopy more enjoyable than The Brown Bunny.  Later, to keep the flames of self-promotion burning, Gallo put up a billboard of co-star Chloe Sevigny fellating him in Hollywood, with the actual act just out of view.  He recut the film, allegedly trimming close to half an hour of him driving around, and the final result is not as bad as what initially screened.  There is decent amount of emotion in the film, but it still comes off as self-indulgent and boring.

The basic plot is that Bud (Gallo, Stranded, Get Well Soon) rides motorcycles.  He finishes a race, then decides to go to California to find Daisy (Sevigny, Shattered Glass, Dogville), a girl he used to date but is still not over.  Along the way, he has some pretty strange encounter with other women named after flowers (Rose, Violet), and with Daisy's mother (Mary Morasky).  She does not remember him although he grew up next door.  She shows him Daisy's pet bunny, which by all means should be long dead as he later learns.  In between these interludes are long intervals of Bud driving, along with the occasional flashback to happier times with Daisy.

Bud is a man clearly depressed over the end of his relationship with Daisy.  This sadness permeates every single moment of his life.  It explains why he acts like such a zombie and why he mopes and refuses to talk to people.  When he encounters women, he tries to get them to come with him, and once they do he ditches them.  Gallo evokes an impressive amount of emotion for so little outward acting.  This still does not detract from the fact that long stretches of him driving does not really do anything for the film.  Yes he is alone, but this is just plain boring.

The much talked about scene is in the film, and Gallo is there in all his glory.  And there is no doubt that this was not simulated.  The scene itself is not as powerful as some of the other scenes in the film.  So why was it included in the first place?  The only real reason would be for shock value.  It contributes absolutely nothing to the story of the film, and instead is extremely distracting.  It's a real shame too, since Gallo manages to ruin any sense of emotion he built up over the proceeding hour.  All the viewer can now think of is "Sevigny really did that on screen?" and other thoughts along those lines.  Things do get better in the final minutes of The Brown Bunny, but it is the classic case of too little, too late.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Not Rated but contains a graphic scene of oral sex, a definite NC-17.

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