UK Release date: 2nd October 1998
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 9th June 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
In most of the listings I’ve seen for this film on the internet, it comes under the genre ‘comedy’, usually with a couple of other things thrown in. Now, having just watched it I feel either I must have totally missed something or my idea of what ‘comedy’ is doesn’t match any known thought process. There were maybe two occasions it raised a flicker of a smirk on my face; certainly no laughs whatsoever and certainly nothing remotely humorous. But I digress, it’s a film that kept coming up over the years but one I never really found the time to watch. Well we’ve finally fixed that now and here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) has just been released from prison after five years inside. He has managed to keep the fact secret from his parents, Jimmy (Ben Gazzara) and Jan (Anjelica Huston), by getting a friend, Rocky the Goon (Kevin Corrigan) to post letters to them periodically. He’s a bit of a hot head and appears to lose his temper quite easily. His parents believe him married and to this end he manages to kidnap Layla (Christina Ricci) and persuade her to pose as his wife when he goes to visit them. I know it all sounds a bit far fetched, but (I guess) that’s the comic element. We learn, through flashback, just how Billy ended up in prison and just who he deems responsible. It all has to do with a bet he made and what he had to do to pay off the bookie (Mickey Rourke). Over the next few hours this odd couple form a kind of bond but Billy has sworn revenge and he’s not one to go back on his word… or is he?
Clearly made on a budget, there is no fancy CGI, no big car chases and no big fight scenes. It’s a piece that relies very much on performance to keep it together and on that front I can’t fault it. Both Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci did a fine job, as did Ben Gazzara and Anjelica Houston. I guess it’s one of those films that’s more about the inner workings of the mind; you find yourself asking what is the motivation behind Billy’s actions and what exactly does Layla see in him? I have to admit at first I really didn’t like the character of Billy, but he grew on me as I came to understand him more. It’s a film that took some time to get going but I found it a worthy watch eventually.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 6.6/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 26,623 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 68/100: (Based on 19 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 86/100 (based on 33,138 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at: