Have you ever taken a long drive with someone you really don’t like? Your eyes fixate on the road and you try not to talk because the less you have to deal with the jerk, the better. And from the onset of the ride you just keep wishing it was over. At many points in this trip, you look at the handle of the door and seriously contemplate throwing yourself from the speeding vehicle, as the result of hitting the pavement would be less injurious than having to spend another second with the person sitting beside you. I’m using a metaphor to describe what it’s like to watch The Brown Bunny, but at the same time there is a literal sense as you’ll soon learn.
You may have heard of the controversy behind this movie, and that may pique your interest, like it did mine one fateful evening 4 years ago. I had no idea what the movie was about, didn’t even know what was controversial about it, but from the description I was somewhat intrigued. I really disliked Vincent Gallo before this. He just reminds me of someone who tries so hard to act ambivalent so that people will think he’s mysterious in cool. In reality he just seems like a prick. Anyway, for some reason that night I felt “hey, I’m in the mood for independent cinema, and maybe Gallo actually pulled off something great this time”. Well, I was wrong. Dead wrong. And this time it’s personal.
The movie starts off with a motorcycle race. This isn’t an establishing shot or anything because it lasts for about seven minutes with no cuts. This was my first clue that something troubling was ahead. Gallo’s character Bud (yep Bud) is a racer we find out, not from dialogue or anything (this movies dialogue reads like a play written by an angsty 13 year old). Bud meets a girl named Violet at a convenience store. He asks her to go to California with him (without any care, in my heart). She accepts but then when they go to her house so she can pack he drives off and leaves her there. This establishes the Bud character as what we layman’s like to call and a-hole. Bud looks like he is on the verge of tears for the entire running time of this movie and yes he does end up crying. Actually he cries a lot. This symbolizes sadness. Thank you Mister Gallo, you have given us a philosophical journey of a man bereft of pretense and a box of tissues. Also a man bereft of bathing capabilities and personality.
After runs away from this girl we get the first, of 200, driving sequences. What I mean by this is that they set the camera on the dashboard of the car and then show the character driving for probably 10 minutes straight. Just driving. I think Google Maps got their idea for the ‘street view’ from watching this movie. The movie was cut down from 118 minutes to 93 minutes, but it honestly feels like it lasts about 48 hours. It’s probably the one time that you don’t want to get the director’s cut. Out of those 93 minutes I think maybe 10 minutes total are actual scenes, not driving scenes. Please don’t think I’m using hyperbole, God how I wish I was. There’s one driving scene that lasts about 20 minutes long going down a stretch of the desert with nothing happening at all except for the occasional bug hitting the window. Finally, Gallo stops the driving. Gets out of his van in the middle of the desert. You start thinking to yourself “it’s a about fucking time”. Then you get that feeling like you are going to have diarrhea and the nearest bathroom is up 20 flights of stairs. This happens because, he pulls his motorcycle out of the van, and starts driving again! You stop driving so you can drive? The camera doesn’t switch to the POV of the motorcycle, you just watch him ride off into the distance and then ride back in an unbroken shot that almost lasts 10 minutes. If you are even flirting with the idea of suicide you shouldn’t watch this movie. It will push you over the edge within the first 30 minutes. What in the hell was Gallo thinking? There was less driving in The Road Warrior, Days of Thunder, and Duel then there is in this movie. If you played a drinking game where you took a shot anytime someone drove, you would die of alcohol poisoning long before the movie’s disappointing end. I have absolutely no problem with a filmmaker using symbols to drive home a point, but to use this tactic for more than three quarters of a movie to show that someone is ‘lonely’ is about the laziest technique I’ve ever seen.
You might be wondering “Hey Kloipy, why is this movie called The Brown Bunny? Shouldn’t it be called The Long and Winding Road?” It’s interesting that you should ask, and the answer is insipid! It’s called The Brown Bunny because in an early scene he goes to his ex-girlfriend Daisy’s parent’s house. And in a conversation in which you can barely hear anything in (I think the boom mike was off having a coffee break from all the driving it had been subjected to) we find out that Daisy has a pet bunny. A brown bunny. There you have it, mystery solved. Does this information add any insight to the movie? Of course not! Daisy’s parents don’t remember Bud, which is probably for the best because he looks like he just crawled out of a dumpster. Anyway, in between driving, Bud meets two other girls with flower names. One is played by Cheryl Tieges, he meets her at a park where she is crying, when he takes a break from driving. He comforts her, possibly due to the fact that she realized she’s in the Brown Bunny. Then he makes out with her in a disgusting scene full of oil and wrinkles. The other girl he drives around with for a few minutes (this is a huge shock), eats some McDonalds (which I actually would be interested to see what happy meal toys they made for this product placement), and then he drops her off on the street. We find out that Bud is pining for his glory days with the mysterious, Lepus-loving Daisy. I guess a Daisy by any other name wouldn’t smell as sweet.
Finally, Bud the Tear-Stained Blunderkind, is able to track down his one true love, and like any reunited couple, they rent a cheap motel room. Chloe Sevigny plays Daisy, in a tour-de-crap performance. She almost immediately heads to bathroom to smoke crack so you know this is a good sign of a stable person. They make small talk until Bud starts getting sad and crying, asking her why she kissed the other guys. Women like this trait in a man. Anyways after a couple of minutes of this, Chloe performs an act on Vincent. Supposedly this is unsimulated and lasts for about 2 minutes. This scene is about as erotic as watching a baby seal get clubbed to death and as stimulating as watching Showgirls with your mom. Just the fact that Vincent Gallo is pretentious enough to believe after making us watch the past 80 minutes of him driving that he deserves to get a bj onscreen makes me want to scream. This scene serves no purpose to the story other than to create controversy so people will sit through this garbage for the worst climax in cinematic history. I can only imagine how many takes he had her do. After they finish, Bud calls her a whore and cries again. Finally it’s time for the big reveal! Watch out M. Night Shymalan, because here comes Vincent Gallo and his amazing twist ending. I bet you were wondering why I devoted this column to something other than horror, well it turns out that along with being a horrible road film this is also a ghost story! Yippee. You see, the whole preceding scene with Daisy turns out to be either figment of Bud’s imagination or a ghost that smokes crack and gives him a boo-job. We find out that Daisy and Bud went to a party, Daisy got raped by some guys while Bud watched, he thought she was just cheating on him. So she ended up passing out and choking on her own vomit and died as a result. Daisy disappears and Bud leaves the hotel. If you thought there were horrors in 1408, you don’t even want to wander into room 303. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for Bud? He’s comes off as the most arrogant, pathetic loser that has walked the face of the planet, who has nothing better to do than drive around looking for sexual favors from a ghost. After learning that he let his girlfriend die, while she was pregnant no less, just makes you just wish his van would run him over. So, what happens after the big reveal? What could possibly fit into the context of the film and bring home the message one last time? That’s right, he drives some more. Because we haven’t seen enough of him drive, and now that the movie cheated us with a stupid ‘sixth sense’ ending, we need another 7 minute driving scene.
I have been mad about this movie for years. Sometimes I’m staring at the sky and just thinking how beautiful the world can be, and then all of the sudden, I see Vincent Gallo’s face (luckily only that) pop into my brain, a tear slowly falling down his cheek onto the steering wheel of his ever-moving van. A rage fills my body that is so encompassing; I think that the Hulk would back off. This movie is in all honesty, the worst movie I have ever seen. And I’ve seen Julien Donkey Boy. Vincent Gallo should never be allowed to make another film. Roger Ebert went back and saw the edited version of the movie and gave it a good review saying that the editing was the ‘salvation’ of this movie after calling it the worst movie to premiere at Cannes. He must have just been being nice since Gallo put a hex on him (I only wish I was joking). I sat through the whole movie without fast forwarding, so I think anyone who does deserves to get the chance to kick Gallo in the balls. If anyone you know recommends this movie to you, make sure to never talk to them again and maybe burn their house down as a lesson. Please don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. This movie is the equivalent of getting a colostomy bag broken over your head.
Until next time, if you ever get offered a ride by Vincent Gallo, don’t take it, because he’s probably looking for a ghost bj. Come to think of it, that actually could have added something interesting to the Casper movie.