Gallo's directorial debut is one of a kind, an eccentric, provocative comedy which laces a poignant love story with both a sombre, washed-out naturalism and surreal musical vignettes. Throwing out the standard repetitions of shot/reverse shot, Gallo brings an individual film grammar to the screen, a beguiling mix of formal tropes and apparently impetuous conceits. If not autobiographical, then at least deeply personal, the film follows one Billy Brown (Gallo) out of prison and back to his hometown, Buffalo, NY. There he kidnaps a girl, Layla (Ricci) a busty, blonde in two-inch skirt and dazzling fairy tale slippers, and entreats her to play his loving wife for his parents' benefit. The homecoming goes a long way to explain Billy's aggressive insecurity: his indifferent mom (Huston) is a rabid football obsessive, while his dad (Gazzara) is taciturn and hostile, though taken with Layla. The cruel caricature of this sourly funny episode is tempered by Layla's sweetness. Billy's turmoil is redeemed in her simplicity. You may scoff at such blatant male wish-fulfilment, but when Billy finally opens himself to the threat of intimacy, it's a heart-rending moment. A brave, honest, stimulating film, this reaches parts other movies don't even know exist.
Cast and crew
Vincent Gallo, Alison Bagnall
Vincent Gallo Christina Ricci Jan-Michael Vincent Mickey Rourke Ben Gazzara Anjelica Huston Rosanna Arquette