Vincent Gallo is nothing if not indulgent, a quality that’s earned him both a legion of detractors and a fervent cult following.
His directorial debut, Buffalo ’66 – which he also wrote – is an eccentric, provocative comedy which laces a poignant love story with both a sombre, washed-out naturalism and surreal musical vignettes.
Casting himself as recently released thuggish ex-con Billy Brown who kidnaps young Layla (Christina Ricci) and forces her to masquerade as his wife to fool his parents, Gallo is just about as unlikable a protagonist as you’ll find in any work of fiction. He has no redeeming qualities.
Billy’s indifferent mother (Anjelica Huston) is a rabid football obsessive, while his dad (Ben Gazzara) – who, we learn in flashbacks, killed Billy’s pet dog to punish him – is taciturn and hostile, though taken with Layla.
The film’s surreal flourishes confuse more often than they impress. But when the movie works, it works wonders, and no scene is more wonderful than Layla’s dreamy bowling alley tap dance, soundtracked by King Crimson.
In the months leading up to the film’s release, Gallo entered into a tabloid battle with star Anjelica Huston.