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Film / The Brown Bunny

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The Brown Bunny is a 2003 independent American arthouse film written, produced, and directed by actor Vincent Gallo, starring him and Chloë Sevigny.

The plot follows Bud Clay (Gallo), a motorcycle racer, as he undertakes a cross country drive following a race in New Hampshire in order to participate in a race in California. All the while, he is haunted by memories of his former lover, Daisy (Sevigny). On his journey he meets other women, but is unable to form an emotional connection with any of them.

To this day, the film is mainly known more for its reputation than its content, with the one scene most people recognize from the film consisting of Sevigny giving Gallo an unsimulated blowjob.note  (A still from the scene was even put on a Sunset Boulevard billboard to advertise the film.) However, the amount of controversy it generated cannot be overstated.

First shown at the Cannes Film Festival, the film was booed and received many walkouts. The film was also greatly panned by critics, with Gallo getting into a war of words with one particular Roger Ebert, who deemed his creation the single worst film in Cannes history. The film was later Re-Cut and distributed; the finished product received mixed reviews, though ironically, Ebert gave this version a much more positive rating of 3 out of 4 stars (although he still upheld his statement about the original cut).

"The Brown Tropes:"

  • Alliterative Title: "The Brown Bunny."
  • Dead Person Conversation: The twist at the end is, that Bud is doing this with Daisy, when they finally meet. She's already dead, and he's imagining her.
  • Flower Motifs: All the women encountered by Bud have flower names. Bud himself has one too.
  • Idealized Sex: The sex is real, which is ironic considering that the whole scene is actually a fantasy.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The film features many extremely long shots, mostly of Bud driving his motorcycle, the road looking out of his windshield, or extremely close profiles of Bud as he drives. The infamous version shown at Cannes apparently had about an extra half hour of these shots, making the film feel interminable.
  • Moral Guardians: Due to the oral sex scene, Sevigny's agency dropped her, and it was thought her acting career was over. This ended up being not the case, with Sevigny's career continuing into acclaimed films and TV series.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: The movie is nowadays more infamous for the blowjob scene, and the verbal vendetta between its director, and critic Roger Ebert than anything else.
  • Recut: The version shown at the Cannes Film Festival was a rough cut, that was apparently not fit for audiences. Once it was completed, critics responded more positively. Ebert's review of the recut version mentions that the two versions are one of the most important examples ever of the power of editing, setting a good film free from a terrible one.
  • Title Drop: The titular brown bunny shows up midway through the film, when Bud watches it at a pet shop, and learns they live for about 5 years. Then he goes back to driving.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The red-band trailer reveals the final twist at the end, though you might not realize it. In fact, it basically sums up the entire movie: Bud drives his motorcycle while haunted by Daisy's death.
    • Many posters on the film, including the soundtrack cover, showed the infamous oral sex scene. Naturally there was controversy over this.