1997 Movie Review: GUMMO, 1997

GUMMO, 1997
1990s Drama Movie Review
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Jacob Reynolds, Chloe Sevigny
Review by Alex Haight


Lonely residents of a tornado-stricken Ohio town wander the deserted landscape trying to fulfill their boring, nihilistic lives.


“When I sit down to eat, I get sexy! When I go to bed, I get hungry! I saw a man lying in the street, and I said, “Can I help you?” He said, “No. I just found a parking space. Now I’m waiting for my wife to go buy a car!” – Tummler (played by Nick Sutton)

There is no preparation possible before viewing the directorial debut of Harmony Korine’s follow up to “KIDS” (which he wrote it at the age of 19). With the latter he provided an honest and abrasive script about the affect of underage sex and drug use in America- and the spawn such acts breed.

His follow-up seems like a De Sade horror show.

By way of “Gummo”, Korine instead offers a nightmare-fairytale of nihilism and faithlessness set against the desolate backdrop of Xenia,Ohio. Set between a mirage of sideshow characters, non-actors, and troubled underage youth’ (this stuff would make John Waters shutter) it plays out like vignettes hand made to disrupt most sensibilities. Anyone who relies on a strong moral fiber, should be warned…this is hard stuff to swallow. There are images here that will be burned into your mind for days, weeks, dare I say-years later.

It’ll be that film that you compare to every other “shocking” one made to.

It sets the bar…then sets it again…then makes a new bar…only to set it. He goes about crafting this voyeuristic sophomore effort by stitching together absurd images and storylines, ie. bacon on the wall, clogging in a mirror, dead cats, homosexual midgets, mentally handicapped prostitutes etc…to subject the viewer to answer the same questions he asked in KIDS-the nature of good and evil and the persuaded path life leads you on towards each one.

This time around however, he tips that thesis on its ear and adds a large heaping spoonful of broken glass disguised as sugar. That is his method…to wash the audience with frames of intense subject to the point of nausea , then bring you down with careful intent.

He himself has even said that the movie was about jokes sans the punch lines.

Try and keep that fact in mind and see how far that gets you.


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