Simon Ramshaw’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Life is beautiful. Really, it is. Full of beauty and illusions. Life is great. Without it, you'd be dead." - Solomon
This is like what Tree of Life would be like if it listened to screamo and sniffed glue. I'm not kidding. I really don't know what to say about this film, other than the fact it contains some of the most powerful and vicious scenes that I've seen so far. Here are some examples:
- The gratuitous portrayal of extreme cruelty against cats, both stray and domesticated.
- A play-fight that is really quite violent between two brothers.
- Two children verbally and physically abusing a boy dressed as a rabbit, while he plays dead.
- The ruthless destruction of a table and chair.
And it's all completely and utterly bizarre. One scene late on in the film involves a mother bringing her son a plate of spaghetti and a glass of milk when he's in the bath, and then preceding to wash his hair as he eats his meal. It may not sound too weird, but at that point, I sat staring agog at the screen.
This is an absolutely raw film if there ever was one, taken straight from the darkest, most humid parts of human experience. Little of it makes sense, and there's a feeling of disgust and repellance in most shots. Gummo is not exactly comfortable viewing, and it doesn't try to be; it only aims to be completely honest about random horrific stuff.
The two young leads are sensational in exceedingly difficult roles, which is made all the more shocking by the sheer youth of them both. Jacob Reynolds was only 13/14 at the time of filming, and his performance is ridiculously brave as he seeks little redemption through this tale of depravity.
Gummo is one of those films that you can't help but admire. The amount of guts and innovation that it takes to make a story such as this work are immense, and it should be commended for that. I'm not saying that I understand this film at all, but there are frequent flashes of pure, visceral cinematic genius. I doff my cap in this film's direction.