Posts Tagged ‘harmony korine’

Gummo (1997)

November 1, 2008

Bunny BoyGummo, directed by Harmony Korine, is a quirky and disturbing look at life in the tornado-wreaked town of Xenia, Ohio. Two boys, Solomon (Jacob Reynolds) and Tummler (Nick Sutton) burn time by killing cats, sniffing glue and having sex. The social landscape of the film is fleshed out by other eccentric individuals. Korine adds a man who pimps his mentally ill wife, a black midget, two bleached blonde sisters, a twelve year old transvestite cat killer, and a good helping of white trash. The film does not have a linear structure but instead provides a dozen fly-on-the-wall style vignettes of these characters daily lives.

Bunny boy (Jacob Sewell), a lone skateboarder who wears large, pink bunny ears is the film’s most interesting character. He makes his first appearance on a delapidated bridge spanning a motorway, spitting and pissing on the vehicles, later he is accosted by some young cowboys with cap guns who beat him and leave him unconscious. Korine does not grant him a voice, instead he remains a silent and fragile icon whoose passivity is celebrated in the sexually liberating swimming pool scene near the end of the film. Sewell is very convincing in this role, he manages to merge the role of young vandal and ethereal being.

Solomon’s secretive yet desensitised account of the tornado at the beginning of Gummo lays down the atmosphere of the film. His narrative accompanies pictures of carnage; severed houses, a cat corpse on a tv antenae and a small child flexing his biceps. Although Solomon is well-adjusted to his environment the film hints at his dissatisfaction. He appears keen to escape the deteriorating landscape through frequent glue sniffing escapades with Tummler. After his naive sexual encounter with a mentally ill woman he is shown weightlifting cutlery trying to build up his stunted and emaciated body, an apparent source of shame. As an actor, Reynolds is noteworthy firstly because of his unusual appearance and physique; he looks like an old child. I found his performance intensely captivating, he does not appear to act at all, but convinces us that this is his world and his reality.

Gummo is certainly an artistic triumph for Korine. The cinematography is commendable, the acting almost flawless. My one point of contention is Korine’s own presence in the movie. Korine plays a homosexual who gives an overt emotional monologue to a black midget whilst sitting on a sofa. I found the scene unneccesary and tedious, it didn’t give anything to the film. Gummo is a difficult film because it is a little inacessible and often grotesque, however it is well-worth watching and trying to unravel its layers.


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