Buffalo '66

Buffalo '66 ★★★★

An imperfect film that gradually won me over for an array of different reasons, the main one being that, against all odds, it’s ultimately... really so simple and tender. I can see why it is so well loved by so many people.

It's such a striking film visually, with this kind of gritty, distressed, vintage-y, muted, greyish look, with droll accents like Gallo’s red boots or Ricci’s sparkling baby blue eyeshadow. There's a certain realist approach, depicting this atmosphere of depression and degradation of middle America, but it's also very stylised, almost like a music video. It’s bold but - it not only works - it often feels like something special. (Good work from DP Lance Acord, who would work on Being John Malkovich shortly after this, then with Sofia Coppola, and who’s sadly stopped shooting movies in recent years for some reason.)

On the other hand, a lot of the artistic decisions felt like overkill. The popping flashback squares, the loony editing of the dinner table shots, a couple of random freeze frames; I feel like the film not only doesn’t need that stuff, but would be stronger without it. But I guess it also adds to the boldness and IDGAF attitude, so more power to Gallo if that’s what he wanted.

In the end, the thing that makes the film work might just be Gallo and Ricci’s personality factor. I couldn’t picture anyone else doing these roles.

Also, if Christina Ricci’s tap dancing scene in the bowling alley doesn’t get a smile out of you, you’re just not human.

I like this idea of how Ricci’s Layla always effortlessly and gracefully gets what she wants, when it’s all so difficult for Billy Brown. It made me think of some of Jarmusch’s films that touch on that self-fulfilling cycle of reward some people get for being more “zen”, whereas others simply can’t let go and just enjoy the ride. Only, Jarmusch himself would be more the zen type, and Gallo the one that can’t let go…

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