Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bad Boy Bubby

Bad Boy Bubby; Grotesque, Australia/ Italy, 1993; D: Rolf de Heer, S: Nicholas Hope, Claire Benito, Ralph Cotterill, Carmel Johnson, Syd Brisbane

Bubby is a 35-year old man who has been living in only one room his whole life because his religious mother told him the world outside is polluted. She mistreats him physically and mentally, often sleeping with him. One day, his father, dressed as a priest, returns home. Bubby realizes the whole concept of the world he was told was a lie, so he kills them both and leaves - for the first time in his life - into the outer world. But he finds out the real world is equally as brutal: a cop beats him, he doesn't have any money, many women find his "flirting" disturbing and don't want to sleep with him...Until he finds his place as a signer in an alternative rock band and meets Angel, who was also abused as a child. They fall in love and get kids.

Cult black comedy "Bad Boy Bubby" acts like a more morbid version of "Being There", with which it shares the exactly same thematic opening act of the (autistic) main protagonist living his whole life in an isolated place, until he one day exits into the outside world for the first time. But unlike the sophisticated forerunner, Rolf de Heer's film is explicit and makes an unusual viewing that will cause many viewers to feel numb from all the shocking things displayed in it: already some five minutes into the film, when Bubby's obese mother is having sex with him, does the movie already show signs of madness of its author. A large part of the audience dismissed the film as "garbage", but it still should be seen until the end, because it turns out that the daring director did something rare - he used "garbage" and bad taste to shape and build a whole honest story about people coping with child abuse and in search for normality in life. In the end, the way some of the points were raised in the film, it seems some of the "higher" themes in it could have only been achieved through these "lower" methods.

The movie is basically very episodic and chopped up - many episodes in it simply do not have any sense. For instance, when Bubby exits into the street, he spots a tree and touches it, but a man with a chainsaw shows up and cuts the plant. Instead of a reaction, Bubby just moves on and continues to walk until a next encounter, when he mimics a kid jumping up and down from joy. Too many "throw-away" events, yet every episode teaches him some small lessons about the harshness of life. One small theme that it actually touches upon nicely for a change is when Bubby meets Angel's parents who call her "fat" and make her cry, upon which the viewers realize how she has also been abused by her parents, though mentally. The story went too much overboard with the wild and bizarre stuff presented in it, making a lot of mistakes, yet at least 4-5 moments in it are real masterworks of beauty. One of the smartest ones, which showed that de Heer can impress when he wants to, is the small essay about religion when the musician tells the hero the bloody history of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, standing on a poster with the symbols of the before mentioned religions that change with every cut, telling: "Thing is, they've all done their fair share of killing or being killed. And in the end, it's all politics. Don't be like them. Even if you hate someone, don't kill him". The other one is a 'tour-de-force' 2 minute philosophical rant by some stranger who tells these words to Bubby: "You see, no one's going to help you Bubby, because there isn't anybody out there to do it. No one. We're all just complicated arrangements of atoms and subatomic particles - we don't live. But our atoms do move about in such a way as to give us identity and consciousness. We don't die; our atoms just rearrange themselves..."


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