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Friday 16 April 2010

Surreal Experiences with Bunny & The Bull

Paul King’s eccentric film, Bunny & the Bull, has been out on DVD now for a couple of weeks, but for those of you who have yet to see it, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on it.

The film follows Stefan Turnbull through his memories as he re-counts an ill-fated trip across Europe with his best friend Bunny last year. Stefan suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and is unable to leave his flat, where everything is meticulously organised into box upon box. Ed Hogg is superb as an awkward Stefan, living under the shadow of the eponymous Bunny, who is everything Stefan is not. As Stefan comes across various things in his flat that remind him of the trip, we follow the pair across Europe, where they visit such delights as the cutlery museum of Germany before Bunny decides that Stefan is not having fun, steals a stuffed bear and encourages him to give the fiery Spaniard, Eloise, a lift to Spain.

Stefan is, of course, quietly in love with Eloise but is doomed to remain ‘in the friend zone’, while the irrepressible Bunny takes what he wants and does what he likes. Bunny’s brash persona is set at odds with Stefan, who is reserved and moralistic, and the friendship between the two ebbs and flows, often strained by Bunny’s love for gambling, women and alcohol. The final test comes when they reach Eloise’s hometown and Bunny decides to fight a bull. Despite Bunny’s bullying and Stefan’s weakness, the two need one another and Bunny & the Bull is a well-woven story about friendship and impotent bravado.

It is definitely more than a little bizarre but I guess this is only to be expected from the director who brought us The Mighty Boosh. The film is filled with surreal experiences, quirky humour and highly-stylised cinematography. At one point Stefan and Bunny are invited to share a drink of dog’s milk with a crazy Hungarian tramp (played by the Boosh’s Julian Barrett) and King manages the perfect blend of awkward disgust and hilarity. The majority of the European journey takes place against a backdrop of illustration and the blend of animation and other visual quirks makes the film incredibly interesting visually.

The soundtrack is by Ralfe Band, who use a range of instruments to create a musical background to the film that is as varied and heartfelt as the story itself. It is a perfect accompaniment to the surreal comedy and, in the spirit of the film, was recorded on a piano that was left outside in the snow to achieve a more weathered sound. The current issue of Aesthetica discusses the impact that a soundtrack can have on a band’s career and Rob Boffard speaks to Oly Ralfe from Ralfe Band about the effect that Bunny & the Bull has had on this career, CLICK HERE to read more.

Strange, funny and highly imaginative, it’s not like any other film that you will see this year and I found it a joy to watch. If you enjoyed the eccentricity of The Mighty Boosh then you will love Bunny & the Bull, which couples the Boosh’s sparkling surrealism with a tender emotional undertone. Bunny & The Bull is out on DVD now.

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