Dirty Pretty Films

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Vincent Gallo shows his manhood

When is a film art, and when is it pornography? It would be absolutely impossible to say anything about Vincent Gallo's new film, "Brown Bunny," without first discussing the controversy surrounding it.

When "Brown Bunny" was first introduced to an audience at the Cannes Film Festival, it was thought by many to be one of the worst movies in the history of cinema. Its slow pace, long silences and painfully explicit oral sex scene (not simulated) had many critics up in arms. This critic, however, fell in love with it.

The story, without giving too much away, is that Bud Clay (Gallo) is searching for his lost love Daisy (Chloe Sevigny). He travels by car from New Hampshire to Los Angeles to find her.

Brown Bunny

8 out of 10

Wellspring Films
Rated: NC-17
93 min.
Now Playing

This film is certainly not for anyone who finds it difficult to sit still or focus on one thing for longer than five minutes. For the first 70 minutes, the audience is alone with Clay and the open road. The audience becomes the passenger in his car, watching his every move. For five minutes at a time, there is nothing but shots of the open road, coupled occasionally with light folk music, but mostly with relative silence.

His encounters with random women along his journey are the most poignant moments of the first half of the film. In somewhat unbelievable situations, Clay makes contact with unfamiliar women. Set aside your need for believability and understand what Gallo is trying to teach you. You will enjoy the movie so much more.

At last, Clay arrives in Los Angeles, and pretty soon the lovers are reunited. As they begin speaking to one another (the first major dialogue of the movie), the film begins to make sense. But not only does it make sense, it's extremely compelling.

The final 20 minutes are the crux of the film. It's the whole film, in some ways. The road scenes are important in their own right, but the story becomes an actual story in the last twenty minutes.

Yes, there is an extremely explicit NC-17-worthy oral sex scene, but it becomes a moot point once the story is told in its entirety. The purpose of the oral sex isn't erotic, and it isn't for shock value. It shows the insecurities Clay has towards his relationship with Daisy, and his guilt for... I guess you'll just have to see it.

This film feels like watching a painter perform his craft. Every word, every movement, every detail has significance. Each shot has a specific purpose and creates a mood of hopelessness and desperation. But until the final climax (pun intended), we are not sure why Clay feels hopeless and desperate.

People tend to think of explicit sex scenes as being dirty, worthless or pornographic. But this movie isn't "Debbie Does Dallas." "Brown Bunny" is honest and real. I understand that people might not appreciate it, but they should accept it as art, and not just dismiss it as pornography.

Vincent Gallo is brave for making this film. He makes no apologies, and he shouldn't. It's a masterpiece.