I am a non-fan of ex-con movies; I find Dustin Hoffman's critically acclaimed STRAIGHT TIME especially odious, for instance. Accordingly, I was about to stop watching BUFFALO '66 during the first scene. Thankfully, I kept the tape rolling to be ultimately rewarded by one of the best indie films I have ever seen. Vincent Gallo has put together an excellent character study set against the grimy, subfusc background of his home town.
Christina Ricci deserves the near-unanimous praise she has received for her eminently appealing, understated portrayal of a cooperative kidnaping victim. The spectrum of expressions that chase across her lovely heart-shaped face in the photo booth is especially memorable. This is not to take anything away from Gallo's acting though. His rhythmic, repetitious remonstrations are quite addictive, and I have since found it difficult to keep from imitating his verbal style while dealing with people at work. Ben Gazzara and Angelica Huston are also outstanding as parents in a family so dysfunctional it makes the subjects of AMERICAN BEAUTY look like something out of the Donna Reid Show. A nearly unrecognizable Mickey Rourke shows up in a great cameo as a bookie.
Fans of local color will also like BUFFALO '66. Gallo has a similar eye for his old stomping grounds that the Coen brothers did for theirs in FARGO, but Gallo's execution is more subtle and at least as rewarding.
Bottom line: just stick with it through the opening scene, and you'll find gold here.
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