Pieces of a puzzle slowly fitting together, to reveal a picture. This is an accurate description of how the film, Gummo by Harmony Korine pans out. Through a series of quite disturbing yet visually stimulating vignettes, Korine somehow relays a tragic story. Essentially, the film is a collection of random events that are assimilated into a larger scheme of things. For the most part, the film emphasizes on showing us things that we know are very real and actually happen, but are terribly hard for the average person to confront.
The tone is unveiled from the very beginning, while a dim and dark outlook are forecast. As it is set in the dilapidated, small town of Xenia, Ohio, the severity of the living conditions there is visible from start to finish. A few of the senseless, haphazard events that are captured, consist of – countless, brutal feline slayings, teens euthanizing the helpless, bed-ridden elderly, and drunken, redneck furniture wrestling.
Somehow, in a twisted pattern, these scenes converge to depict the pure horror of living in this place. In respect to the cast of this film, Chloe Sevigny is reasonably the only name that people are likely to recognize. There are a handful of other obscure actors as well as some on-actors that appear in the film, for various reasons. In the process of being introduced to each person through certain circumstances, it is difficult to determine which ones are the actors and which are not.
From some of the sequences presented, it seems tough to draw the line between harsh reality and exploitation. Contrary to the town that this film takes place in (Xenia, Ohio), it was shot on location in Nashville, Tennesee. Nashville provides an appropriate backdrop for the setting that was trying to be portrayed. Korine shoots the film with raw textures, giving it a real, lmost too real deliverance. The camera work at times is almost hard to watch.
Throughout the film – the images have a natural, gritty appearance. All in all, Gummo provides us with a shockingly real glimpse at the hardships and dilemmas that face lower class suburban life. This film poses as somewhat of a quasi-documentary. In part, it is brutal truth, including real people and events, and at the same time, it follows a fantastic, yet dark journey, that was written and directed to be as rough and unpolished as possible. This is what makes it’s mark as a good film in a non-traditional sense.