March 1, 2019 | Posted in Celebrity by
Welcome back to Mainstream Spotlight where we take a look at theatrically released films that feature real, unsimulated sex scenes. Today we tackle one of the more controversial scenes in any film in this new millennium, the much ballyhooed blowjob scene from Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny.
Gallo's 1998 feature directorial debut, Buffalo '66, is amongst my all-time favorite films, so the prospect of another Gallo joint was very intriguing to me. Gallo brought an unfinished work print of the film to the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, igniting a firestorm of controversy and sparking a war of words between Gallo and critic Roger Ebert. Many things were said about the film—it was boring, lacked focus, featured a scene of Gallo washing his motorcycle in real time—but there was one spoilerific detail that took center stage in nearly every discussion about the film: The beej.
When the film opened in Chicago in the late summer of 2004, I dragged my wife at the time to see it, knowing full well I couldn't tell her about the beej until we were in our seats waiting for the film to begin. She ended up being the only woman, and us the only couple, in the theater that Friday afternoon, and it felt very much like it must have felt in the porno theaters of legend, minus all the "shucka shucka shucka" sound effects from the assembled male masses.
For the 81 minutes prior to the beej, we're kept in close quarters with Bud Clay, a motorcycle racer embarking on a cross-country trip to his next race. As played by Gallo, Clay comes off as a whiny, petulant child who just wants every woman around him to comfort him, only so that he can abandon them just as they begin to develop any feelings for him. He repeats this pattern with many women across his trip, stopping off at a rest area for a make-out session with a crying Cheryl Tiegs.
The film isn't subtle, often resorting to Clay basically begging women to even give him the time of day. The time spent in between these are long stretches of silence over shots of the open road. Gordon Lightfoot's "Beautiful" plays and we're left to wonder what the actual fuck Gallo is trying to say. He arrives, mercifully, in California and rings up his old flame Daisy (Chloë Sevigny) to come and meet him at his hotel. When she obliges, he wastes no time in getting her on her knees to welcome him back home...
There's no music and only a handful of angles, many of which make it difficult to see the actual dick sucking. Gallo's dialogue while she sucks his dick includes him asking her if she has been thinking about his dick and making herself cum. He then becomes very jealous, telling her she can't do this with anyone else, and clearly deriving pleasure from her constant agreement that she won't suck anyone else's cock. He finishes violently in her mouth while he tells her that he saw her fucking two other guys.
We come to discover that Daisy actually died after overdosing on drugs while being assaulted by two men at a party, adding another, far more disturbing layer to an already disturbing scene. Bud Clay is another in a long line of men who thinks that a woman is to blame for everything wrong in his life. He hates Daisy for what she did to him, when in actuality, she was the victim of an actual crime. He resents her for leaving him alone, misdirecting his aggression at the circumstances and positioning himself as one of cinema's first incels.
Does the film need to go to these lengths to get that point across? I suppose that all depends upon your views of art and the limitations we place on what is acceptable to show in a mainstream film. There's nothing in the Brown Bunny's prior 81 minutes that would indicate a hardcore blowjob is on the horizon, but it recolors the entire film once it happens. It's as integral to the overall film as a gratuitous blowjob can possibly be, mostly because the movie is meaningless without the scene. The saddest truth about The Brown Bunny is that even a real deal beej isn't enough to make it watchable.
Header image via IMDb