Bunny And The Bull

Bunny And The Bull

**

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Meet Stephen (Edward Hogg). He's agoraphobic, terrified of going outside. He lives a life of complex routines, obsessively organising everything within his flat. How did he get to be this way? It takes a journey back through his past to find out.

There's been a lot of hype around this film, mostly centering around how clever it is to write a script set entirely within one flat. Let's ditch that idea at the outset. Although it is framed within one flat, the rest of the action being a mixture of memory and imagination, it's actually about events happening elsewhere, so in fact there are lots of different sets and lots of room to expand. The result is a dreamily picaresque film most of whose flaws stem from a lack of discipline and a tendency to use its expansive potential as an excuse to move on every time it runs out of ideas.

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At the centre of this film is the friendship between Stephen and Bunny (Simon Farnaby), a curly-haired chancer who has taken it upon himself to brighten up our hero's life after the latter has been disappointed in love. They're both unutterably selfish and the origin of their friendship is obscure, but most of the time they function as a successful team, blundering around Europe on holiday with Stephen wanting to visit obscure museums and Bunny wanting to drink lager and get laid. The supporting cast includes members of The Mighty Boosh (Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding), which has given the film a certain cult appeal to fans. And there's also Spanish actress VerĂ³nica Echegui, which is fortunate, because she's the only one with an ounce of charisma.

Bunny And The Bull opens with a gorgeously shot credit sequence which takes us through a complex array of ordinary objects in a style reminiscent of Jeunet and Caro's work on Delicatessen. Though later on much of the direction becomes stagy (this might have worked a lot better in the theatre), the set dressing is simply stunning throughout, perfectly pitched and benefiting from marvellous attention to detail. There's design work to rival Terry Gilliam's films and the titular bull, when it finally arrives, is glorious. Unfortunately this has the effect of raising expectations which the rest of the film can't live up to.

An assortment of quirky characters never quite produce the laughs they should and there's too much of a forced, self-conscious feel about the whole thing, indie-by-numbers. But the biggest problem is that it's simply very dull. Sequences drag on much longer than they should, there's next to no tension, and it's hard to really care about the protagonists' fate - at least until the end, when we snap back to reality. Ultimately, the poignant story of Stephen's imprisonment, which the film works so hard to avoid addressing directly throughout most of its length, is far more interesting than the poorly developed adventures it prefers to focus on. This is a film which has gone on holiday by mistake.

Reviewed on: 18 Nov 2009
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A road movie set entirely in a flat... but then what do you expect from a film featuring The Mighty Boosh's Simon Farnaby?
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Director: Paul King

Writer: Paul King

Starring: Edward Hogg, Simon Farnaby, Verónica Echegui, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt, George Newton, Madeleine Worrall, Waleed Khalid, Margaret Wheldon

Year: 2009

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

London 2009

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