More a poetic collage than a narrative story, GUMMO presents the viewer with a lavish feast of images--some disturbing, some gorgeous, all memorable. In the small impoverished town of Xenia, Ohio, Solomon (Jacob Reynolds) and Tummler (Nick Sutton) spend their teenage boyhood killing cats, sniffing glue, and generally trying to alleviate their boredom. The town's other residents find their own amusements. Solomon's mother (Linda Manz, of DAYS OF HEAVEN, a film that GUMMO's dreamlike imagery evokes) tap-dances, local teen siren Dot (ChloŽ Sevigny) puts tape on her nipples, and Bunny Boy (Jacob Sewell) explores the desolate suburban landscape on his skateboard, wearing pink rabbit ears. Xenia and its inhabitants have never quite recovered from the tornado that ripped the town apart 20 years ago; the place remains inside out, raw, and shattered.
GUMMO's gritty realism is enhanced by director Harmony Korine's use of real locations in and around Nashville, Tennessee, and his use of nonprofessional local actors in many of the film's roles. These techniques harken back to filmmakers such as Werner Herzog and John Cassavetes, both of whom Korine cites as influences. Korine's willingness to explore the borderlands of feature filmmaking has resulted in a beautiful and challenging film whose haunting images remain long after it's over.
GUMMO's disjointed, unsettling vignettes explore the lives of the poverty-stricken residents of a squalid, tornado-ravaged Ohio town--teens collecting stray cats to finance a huffing habit, a mentally retarded prostitute, a boy clad in pink bunny ears roaming the streets.