Hibiscus’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is going to be a long one.
If you've been following me on this site for a while, you'll probably know that Gummo is my favorite film of all time.
A lot of people say that certain filmmakers or different works of art changed their life(hell, even I say it quite often)but in the case of Harmony Korine it's absolutely true.
I remember being around 15 years old when I first discovered KIDS. I was a quiet, depressed skateboarder, and when I first saw the film it was like a revelation. I remember a period of one or two weeks where I would watch the film every day after school, and once more being in awe of what I saw.
Even though I was interested in films before then, I think KIDS was the first film where I truly could identify the actions on screen as absolutely authentic. I've never been a violent person, and I've never done any drugs, but I knew the people on screen.
I obviously found out about Harmony Korine, and I remember having seen the poster for Gummo years before, somewhere on the internet, and being incredibly intrigued by it.
My first viewing of the film did not hit me as strongly as KIDS had done. I think I expected it to be more of a "conventionally deep and fully polished art film" and what I got seemed to be something entirely different. A raw, unfiltered film full of texture and imagary, all assembled on emotion and intuition, that showed some of the most explicitly different characters and scenes I'd ever seen.
It took me a couple of viewings, but I soon realized what a big deal this film would be for me.
I became obsessed with Harmony Korine, in a way that I've never been with any other artist before. I looked up every single interview, read every single article, and watched all of his different projects. I think I even unconsciously started to act in a similar fashion, and I still haven't been so heavily impacted by anyone to this day.
His ideas of 'mistakeism', and of making 'anti-hitchcock cinema' also changed my fundamental approach to filmmaking, and even his books and the way he writes affected me deeply.
I'm still not entirely sure why his works speak to me to this absurd degree, but I think the idea of making films purely based on emotional responce is something that almost no other filmmaker is able to do. Harmony is not interested in making overly-intellectual works, or his films to be disected and analyzed in a conventional sense. Gummo is a film about(and partly featuring)people that Korine grew up with, and one can tell from the very first frames that the movie is a personal one.
I realize know how incredibly stupid my ramblings might sound, and how my admiration might come of as laughable for some, but I still feel like there are people like me out there(with a similar case, but for a different person/film).I think it's important to have clear role models and influences in life, and Harmony most definitely helped me find myself and my own voice.
Watching this film again, for the first time in almost a year, I can feel myself tearing up almost as soon as I started. The nostalgia and the inspiration that these 90-minutes of collected celluloid has given me is unparalleled.
Whenever I, or any other aspiring filmmaker has doubts in themselves, and questions if what they do even matters, I can look back at Korine and Gummo. Because if Korine managed to change my life to this degree, the least I could do as a filmmaker is to go out there and give it my all.