Gummo ★★★★½

Harmony Korine dares to go down avenues that other directors either don't or simply won't. While I can't say this works out well for him every time, I've learned through my experiences with everyone from Woody Allen to Tarsem Singh to give credit where it's due. Korine has more courage than most directors working today and wears it on his sleeve. Anyone who makes a film about celebrity impersonators inhabiting a Lost Boys like colony on an island doesn't care about ticket sales and that is getting to be a very commendable thing these days. In his debut effort here, Gummo, he shows a community in the aftermath of destruction then adds his personal touches with his writing and select actors to set the stage for what follows. It's his way, no one else's.

Small town Ohio. Forever changed by a devastating tornado. Life goes on, any way it can. These are the people time forgot and you need to meet them. Their existence and daily routines beg hundreds of questions about society and humanity. The story follows several of the locals as they hunt cats to sell for money, pimp out their family members, or simply roam the destitute community with their best set of bunny ears. There's some shocking and disturbing behavior so expect it. What's unexpected is the honest light these individuals are shown in and how these people are not made out to be monsters but victims of their own circumstances.

Korine's picture is not a pretty one but its painted with undeniably real colors. Can you somehow find beauty in that? His use of close-ups and music might help you tune in. He somehow rides the line between documentary and feature film and comes up with a hybrid winner that you can’t deny. The living conditions show something atrociously new to some of us, but it's nothing new to the history of man and that's one of the main ideas here. Hard times have callused us since the beginning and we should not look away from it because it’s real...and nothing hurts like the truth. Fear not, this has no time to be a downer. Korine's got style. It's a unique style, and one I'm not completely sold on. However, I give credit where it's due and for his dynamic debut, Korine earns the right to make whatever kind of films he wants for the rest of his career.

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