Buffalo '66

Buffalo '66 ★★★★★

Buffalo '66 opens up with minimal sound and title cards (with a photo) that give the viewer exposition about the central character. Played by director Vincent Gallo, this character is deplorable, and incredibly narcissistic. But Gallo's direction is like some Warhol-molested grindhouse film straight from the 70s - shot on reversed film stock that gives it a glowing, grainy atmosphere that suits Gallo's stylistic choices in editing and art direction. Gallo's character leaves prison in the opening scene, heading for home and wearing bright red shoes that recall The Wizard of Oz's "no place like home" motif. The red is striking, most of all, because the film mostly avoids any colors that aren't dry and lifeless.

The film is bizarre, but never disingenuous. It's a love story, but it subverts the mechanics of the genre. It's a comedy, but it garners that from grim reality. Not many films try to play for laughs when presenting child abuse as a serious trauma for its anti-protagonist, but Gallo pulls this off - having music video type screens bounce in and out of the present storyline.

Buffalo '66 is about narcissism, and whether Gallo's own behaviors are apart of some performance art or strictly him, the movie itself doesn't shy away from being heavy-handed about it.

But Gallo's heartfelt side lies in Christina Ricci and her character. Someone without an identity, a teenager who submits - presenting boredom as catalyst for some kind of adventure. It's ambiguous as to why she goes along with what is asked from her or why she even likes the Gallo character in the first place, but she's a strong female character. She opens up his heart, and thus the audience, by simply exuding a personality that feels empathetic and honest.

Leave it to Gallo to have their happily ever after be a "The End" title card that lasts only a split second before the credits crash in.

One of the unsung, forgotten, misunderstood masterpieces of 90s American cinema.

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