Anyone who has seen surreal British TV comedy series The Mighty Boosh may think they know what to expect from its creator Paul King’s feature debut. But while it does share many of the same traits as Boosh – outlandish humour, visual inventiveness and some of its cast members – Bunny and the Bull is more accessible to a wider audience thanks to a solid and inspired story, which combines comedy and pathos in equal measure, and a two outstanding central performances from Ed Hogg (who put in a blistering performance in last year’s White Lightnin) and Simon Farnaby.
They are Stephen and his best mate Bunny respectively whose ill-fated trip across Europe a year previously is the reason why Stephen is now confined to his flat, suffering a bewildering barrage of flashbacks and hallucinations. As he relives the journey, so we see how he and Bunny ‘s meeting with the fiery Eloise (Veronica Echegui) was the catalyst for a series of extremely unfortunate events that have changed Stephen’s life forever.
It’s not just the story that’s so fascinating here, but the way it’s told. Through the prism of Stephen’s memory this road trip becomes a colourful, imaginative series of vignettes, with European locations created using pieces from Stephen’s current surroundings; his bathroom becomes an intercity train, for example, the workings of his bedside clock represent a continental carnival. It’s difficult to put into words just how clever this production design really is; to describe it as Gondry or Gilliam-esque would do a disservice to King’s original creativity. It’s mesmerising to watch, and gives the film a real physical and emotional depth.
But King doesn’t rely on visual trickery to carry his film. His dialogue is sharp and there are moment of laugh-out-loud humour, mostly thanks to Bunny’s caustic one-liners. But this isn’t just comedy; this is a story of love, life and friendship that slowly reveals itself to be as honest and moving as any you’re likely to see. That it’s one of the most visually interesting films to come out of the UK for some time only adds to its appeal. 4 stars
There’s a brilliant commentary with director Paul King, stars Ed Hogg and Simon Farnaby and producer Mark Burke, plus additional interviews with King, Hogg and Fanaby. And there’s the usual rota of deleted scenes, look behind the scenes, featurette and bloopers. 4 stars
Stars Ed Hogg, Simon Farnaby, Veronica Echegui
Director Paul King
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Distributor Optimum Home Entertainment
Released March 29