Buffalo 66 - rated - Simmering

This film is so obviously a "first film." It positively screams: "Here I am, look at me, I'm a director now!" Vincent Gallo, the director, is quite a talented man. He's an artist, composer, actor and director. All this, despite his having just about the world's worst parents.

I really hope Vincent Gallo's parents aren't still living. They would ask for a divorce from Gallo if they are. He's really crucified them in this film. They are absolute cardboard cutouts. Luckily, they're played for laughs by Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazzara, who appear to be having a ball. When Gazzara gets to cuddle Christina Ricci, you can almost catch him out-of-character, enjoying himself in real life too.

Gallo, on the other hand, seems to take everything very seriously indeed. Although he makes the film very funny at times, he doesn't seem to realise that everyone else is giving things a lighter touch. It is mostly very heavy weather with Vincent. "This is my life," he seems to be saying, "feel sorry for me!"

Thank heavens for Christina Ricci, who looks here like a cross between a blue kewpie doll and a Martian. She's so strange, but she's also brilliant, and she hits exactly the right note in every scene. She's ironic, but also sympathetic; she's taciturn, but manages to communicate a wealth of emotion. She transforms the last few scenes into something wonderful. She saves the film from drowning in its own juices.

Having said all that, the film looks amazing. It has some original approaches visually - for example, small moving frames are used to show us what Gallo is thinking from time to time. But these devices verge on making the film too clever for it own good. By about 2/3rds of the way through, I felt like leaving because the style of the film was overtaking the substance. Then Christina took over, and she dragged me back. I'm glad I stayed to the end. It surprised me, and in the final few scenes - inspired by Christina no doubt - the film was saved .