Bunny and the Bull (2009) – a low-budget gem from TIFF09

This quiet little gem of a movie came out of nowhere last year at Toronto Film Fest, and we really hoped it would pick up. Sadly, almost a year later, it’s gone through a handful of European film fests, and disappeared. Too bad. Bunny and the Bull really deserves to be watched, in small groups of friends, or family – because it’s about true friendship. It’s about understanding and accepting each other no matter how freakishly odd you may be. It’s about compromising and going left, just because a friend thinks it’s the way to go – even as your whole entity wants to turn right. It’s about the little sacrifices we make for friends (or in the name of friendship) every day. This is what ‘bromance’ should be – mature, respectful, solid and at times – tender.

Stephen (Edward Hogg) and Bunny (Simon Farnaby) go on a trip across Europe. They leave dead-end jobs, tiny apartments, one-night stands, lack of any determination and focus behind. And they just go on the road, a trek across Europe. But you see, it’s not a typical road movie. The trip is kinda all happening in the mind of Stephen (he’s a shut-in, and is really afraid to go out), so as he rummages in his apartment and stumbles onto various knick-knacks, he flashes back to that one big amazing trip he had a year ago with Bunny. It’s very warm, and the observations are sharp, culture differences and all, but you see, even that is still just the surface of the movie.

A huge part of it is the sets – as the guys go from situation to situation, a new set is created (very similar to Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind), and these sets seem to be coming together from cardboard, toothpicks and household items. In fact the creators of the film (Paul King) have confirmed that they deliberately tried to imagine how these places would look like if they were assembled from simple items. Some imagination, scissors and glue. And it’s amazing just how simple, brilliant and effective these sets are. The boys travel through Eastern Europe (post-communist), a little visit to France, Germany, and the final act in Spain. Every stop has its own look and feel, and the attention to detail is mindboggling. The fact that this film only had a budget of 1mil is amazing.

Even though the visuals to take over the film from time to time, the boys (and their shared love interest, Eloisa, played by Veronica Echegui) really quickly establish a sense of real journey, real roadtrip, while emebbeded in this cardboard fantasy. I still remember walking out of the theater thinking – this is small, inexpensive, has to be picked up , and would be perfect for a holiday release. Honest without being trite, emotional without being sugary, and very imaginative, something that you can take kids to, even though it really is about (already) grown boys growing up and becoming even older, more seasoned. I also clearly remember my wife declaring that Bunny and the Bull was the best film she’s seen at TIFF in 2009. Of course, as we all remember, ‘Precious, based on a novel Push by Sapphire’ went on to get all the spotlights, awards and box office receipts. In our opinion, this was the gem that really stood out last year at Toronto Fest.

Find it, watch it with friends. This might just bring you closer together.

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