Name of Film: Gummo (1997)
Director: Harmony Korine
Origin and Release Year: USA (1997)
Starring or score: 5/10
Genre: Slapstick Comedy
Gummo, released in 1997 and directed by Harmony Korine, is a strange film that follows the lives of an oddball community in Xenia, Ohio. It highlights the poverty-ridden reality of Americans who didn’t achieve the dream. It is a tale about the effects of a tornado on society.
Through a series of gritty visuals on this sensitive subject matter, Gummo challenges the borderline between open-mindedness and the offended audience.
The film does not focus on a plot but rather scenes of journeys that various characters embark on. There are a series of strong scenes and visuals that exhibit vulgarity and obscure activities done by the characters. It showcases themes such as violence, mental illness, disability, sexuality, racism, and many other social issues. It is a film that follows grotesque humanity.
Gummo insults human diversity by showing its truth. It is unapologetic in revealing the real thoughts and actions of human beings even when tragedy is at play. For example, one of the lines mentions seeing a girl flying through the sky and looking up her skirt, despite the unfortunate circumstance. A statement on human instinct ruling over a situation.
It wants the audience to accept the ugly side of their humanity and forces them to question morality.
The film boasts naturalistic realism juxtaposed against shots with completely different styling e.g. vignetting. This makes it feel very discombobulated and further confuses the subject matter. However, in discombobulating itself, it manages to pull together social realism.
The film, for example, also shows the visual of a young boy in a bathtub with dark water. He washes with extreme care but the scene is unsettling because of his dirty water, which he then proceeds to eat in.
It questions his thinking and logic and fights against one’s inner germophobe whilst making you realize that the color of the water is the only element causing the question of hygiene. One needs to remind themselves that it could be the result of attempted cleanliness.
This is a film that should’ve offended me but somehow did not COMPLETELY because of its storytelling quality. Gummo is not for the faint of heart. The film is raw in every element and exposes the grit on taboo topics, easily offensive to many viewers. This film is one I would recommend to the typical mainstream audience to challenge their open-mindedness. It is easily a 5 out of 10, faulting to 5 out of 10 only because of my personal moral compass.
What did you think of Gummo?