Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Venice 2010: Promises Written In Water

Several years ago, I was present at the now infamous Cannes screening of Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny, a film that brought hoots of derision and howls of laughter from a large number of those present. Gallo's latest effort behind the camera, which screened here yesterday as part of the Official Competition, makes The Brown Bunny look dynamic, action-packed and not that bad after all.

The opening credits of Promises Written In Water begin with the words “edited by Vincent Gallo”, and are followed by another that proclaims “music by Vincent Gallo” before the final credit announces the film to be: “written, directed and produced by Vincent Gallo.” All of which, inevitably, provoked a few titters from the audience.

Gallo also stars in this tale of Kevin (Gallo) who works as an undertaker, smokes a lot, drives around, eats, takes photos of corpses, has dinner with, talks to and shouts at a woman played by French model Delfine Bafort who, in turn, spends much of the film naked. And that’s about it.

Shot in murky black and white, in extremely long takes, with the camera often focusing solely on Gallo (there’s one five-minute shot which consists of him, in close up, smoking a cigarette, pacing his room, before sitting down and sighing loudly), it's clear Gallo's aiming to replicate the moody, melancholic, monochromatic atmospheric art movies of yesteryear, but what he ends up with resembles an ineptly made student film, and even with a running time of 73 minutes is interminable.


Anonymous said...

Gallo said this was a highly conceptual film. I guess I'd like it 'cause that long takes in black & white remind me of Garrel's films and I love that man's work.

Besides, I liked a lot The Brown Bunny, and all that laughing in the Cannes premiere was very disrespectful and shameful, in my opinion. Besides I don't understand how can anyone laugh at a film like The Brown Bunny that tells a tragic story. I guess those who laugh didn't understand the film at all, or maybe it's me and the few people who liked it, having a special taste.

J.D. said...

Yeah, I really liked THE BROWN BUNNY as well but it was no BUFFALO '66 that's for sure.

Mark Salisbury said...

I knew that as soon as I criticised Gallo someone would jump to his defense. For me it's not a case of not understanding his art, rather I don't like it.

I also wonder which version of The Brown Bunny you saw, because he cut about half an hour out of the print that showed at Cannes. I hear that edited version is better.

Taking a look at your profile Mara, I see we like a lot of the same films — but on Gallo we must respectfully disagree...

J.D. said...

I saw the edited version.

Mark Salisbury said...

I haven't seen that cut but I know somebody who's seen both versions and much preferred the shorter one.