Tommy’s review published on Letterboxd:
In recent years I've heard of and seen imagery from Gummo pretty much everywhere, and it has reached cult status. At first I put off reviewing this because the fans of it seem to be quite rabid and passionate, and I'm not sure if I'm in the mood for those comments today, but the more I think about it, the more baffling I find it that it is as popular as it is.
I knew just from looking at screenshots and synopsis' that this probably wouldn't be for me, but I decided to give it a chance, as I've been meaning to do so but putting off for a while now. I'm actually surprised at how much distaste I had for it; I got absolutely nothing out of it. Most of the reasoning I see as to why people love this so much is that it shows abstract concepts such as the "beauty within the ugliness of life", I'm sorry but I just don't see it.
Eli Hayes said in his review, the phrase: "one man's trash is another man's treasure". I agree with this, clearly there's something about this film that resonates with people, something very special; but I'm not one of those people. This film contains animal abuse, pedophilia and discrimination against pretty much every type of person; somewhere there might be beauty amongst this for some, but all I really see is shock value, and I generally find the film repulsive for this. I didn't really find the social commentary of the film particularly interesting either.
When it comes to technical aspects, this film's clearly influential, but I don't think it's well made. While the acting's actually pretty good, and one of the only things I actually like about the film, it only just manages to carry the awful script. I can understand and appreciate that the film does not have a narrative, but literally every bit of dialogue is a long tangent that leads to even more shock value, which I usually hate and find unimpressive in any film, but in this it becomes so repetitive, making the film extremely tedious to get through. Speaking of which, the runtime of this film is less than 90 minutes, but due to just how poor the pacing is it feels at least double this. I was bored from pretty much beginning to end. I also found the aesthetic qualities of the film pretty bland and somewhat annoying, the low quality camcorder footage, for example, was extremely overused throughout the film.
After reading this review, you may think I was too generous with my rating, as it reads like I completely despise everything about this film. And if you assumed this, you'd be correct; I truly disliked almost everything about this film. For me personally, it has very few redeemable qualities, if there are any at all. However, I find the subjectivity of this film and the differences in people's reactions very interesting on it's own, maybe slightly increasing my opinion on the film. The fact that I, and someone who likes this film can see completely different things in what are objectively the worst, most disgusting, disturbing, brutal and reprehensible acts people can commit is fascinating and I believe this was Harmony Korine's intention. I understand that I am supposed to be shocked and appalled by this film, and that is not the issue that I hold with it. My issue is that I don't see any value or meaning within this on it's own, and that it may carry more weight for some others. In spite of that, I know that some of the imagery within Gummo will at the very least leave an impression on me.