Buffalo '66 is the directorial debut of actor, writer, artist, model, and composer Vincent Gallo (best known for his tough-guy roles in The Funeral and Palookaville) and seemingly the 50th film of the year featuring the suddenly ubiquitous Christina Ricci. Set over the course of one day, Buffalo '66 stars Gallo as a just-released, wrongfully convicted, constantly angry fall guy who returns to his native Buffalo in order to visit his family and kill the Buffalo Bills place-kicker whose Superbowl-blowing foul-up Gallo blames for ruining his life. In order to support the lies he's told his eccentric, unloving parents (Ben Gazzara and Anjelica Huston), Gallo kidnaps Ricci from tap-dancing class and forces her to pose as his wife. Over the course of the day—although when and why are left frustratingly unexplained—Ricci comes to care for her loutish kidnapper and begins to try to reach out to him. Buffalo '66 is an intriguing, peculiar, ultimately disappointing film loaded with flashy, stylish touches that prove more interesting than anything else. Despite clear aspirations to be an actors' showcase, grotesque caricatures take the place of real humans. With the exception of Gallo's protagonist, almost every one of Buffalo '66's characters could have stepped out of Dean Stockwell's cut-rate bordello in Blue Velvet. While watching Gazzara, Huston, Kevin Corrigan, Rosanna Arquette, and others take things two steps beyond over-the-top is inherently compelling, it becomes embarrassing before long. Gallo's relationship with Ricci, which takes up much of the film, also frustrates: It ought to be the heart of the movie, but it doesn't take long to notice that Ricci's thinly realized character exists only because Gallo's story requires her; she's there to offer a grunged-up variation on the creaky loser-finds-redemption-through-the-love-of-a-good-woman plot. But that's much like the film itself: an artfully unusual facade placed atop virtually nothing.
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