aProandaCon

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Buffalo '66
(1998)

The Greatest Romance Movie
You know Twilight? Where like, the guy is perfect and dreamy and all the teenage girls want to marry someone as perfect and dreamy as him? Yah, F that.

When I showed my friend this movie his first response was "What does she see in him?" I was surprised. I didn't get what he didn't get. Yah, he's flawed. THAT'S THE POINT. It's easy to love someone who's perfect---anyone can do that. But to love someone so terribly insecure, wounded, paranoid, irritable, and a million other things--? That takes real love. Layla isn't weak for loving such a person, she is incredibly strong. Real life romance requires people being able to conquer the bad in order to grow, and that's what the whole entire point of this movie.

Layla and Billy face their own, individual challenges.

Layla has the emotional and social intelligence that apparently some of the audience lacks. Right from the beginning, right after their rough introduction, she sees through to his vulnerability when he is talking on the phone at the dance studio, telling lies about how he's at an expensive hotel. There is a sudden, short cut to her listening in on the bathroom, with a sad look on her face. She can see by the things that he pretends to be what he really is. Because if someone puts on an act, logic follows that's not what they are really like. So she sees him acting tough and high status, and uses simple powers of deduction to conclude that he is really sensitive and insecure. She doesn't fall in love with what he does but what he hides. What is hidden is his true self, and she lets him show it to her. She begins to see deeper into the reasons for his behavior when she is at his parents house. She is trying to talk to his parents and is being completely ignored. She gives a brief crushed and sympathetic look to the camera (Billy's perspective) before turning her attention to the TV as his mother commands her to "watch this play." She is extremely observant and knows how to give Billy a comfortable distance while simultaneously slowly coaxing him closer e.g. asking for a handshake and giving him a hug. Also when he indirectly confesses that he wasn't actually in a relationship with Wendy like he said he was, instead of calling him out or making him feel bad she asks afterward, "Did you have any other girlfriends?" This isn't the sign of a stupid, weak, one-dimensional character. She has a very contained personality, but she is the one who is more emotionally secure and stable, and acts as the rock that Billy never had. I thought it was all pretty obvious, but I guess if you're one-dimensional yourself, then yes, she's probably going to seem one-dimensional too.

But the main focus is the challenge that Billy faces. While Layla is clear and upfront about her feelings, Billy has to struggle with a choice: to act on anger, hate and hurt, and to take his own life, or to take the path of love, get rid of his deep rooted negativity, and embrace life. He is faced with this struggle up until the last 5-10 minutes of the film, when he is face to face with the man who represents all the awful things in his life, and debates whether or not to shoot him and then himself. Throughout the whole movie he periodically tries to make good on his plans, calling the club, checking to see what time Scott Woods comes in, and so on. He has to wait, and spends this time with Layla. After looking Scott Woods in the face, and letting go of everything bad, you see a complete transformation into a sweet and happy man who has let go of his demons and found a reason to live. Love kept him from killing himself. Really, how more romantic can you get? I think another thing people have missed is the fact that it's supposed to be funny. It's a darker sense of humor, which I could see not everyone getting. But you're not supposed to take character flaws so seriously; they're exaggerated for comedic effect. And I want to say that I am from Buffalo, and he is dead on. I know people from Buffalo are mad at him, but come on, it's pretty much true. All the way from the houses covered in Bills merchandise to the annoying flat "a" in our accents which makes everyone else think we're Canadian. The whole movie has a consistent feel to it The bland and muted colors used throughout the film give it an ugly-beauty sort of feel which is very accurate to Buffalo's charm.

This movie doesn't spell out for the audience everything they should think and feel. You have to interpret and analyze not the words of the conversations, but what they're trying to convey about the dynamics between people. The characters, motivations, feelings, are not force-fed, and I prefer it that way. If you aren't able to digest deeper meanings in movie, and need direct dialog and formulaic characters, then you have no business snooping around in independent films in the first place. And the whole entire thing was contingent on the last few minutes. If you don't sit down a watch a whole movie, what are you doing rating and reviewing it?

Anyway---the reason why this movie is so great is because it doesn't try to push the common delusions that romance is all fairy-tales and bunny tails, but instead examines what love really is. Love isn't being rescued by Edward Cullen, it's being kidnapped by Billy Brown.

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