Onscreen troubled-teen torments oft-times follow familiar patterns, but all is transcended when an actor like Rory Culkin sets to a role with such ardor, such wide-eyed, hollow-faced habitation. In “Gabriel,” writer-director Lou Howe’s fine feature debut, twenty-five-year-old Gabe (his favored diminutive) ill-advisedly hopes to stalk his long-unseen childhood sweetheart (Emily Meade) while on a furlough from a mental hospital. Wintry, bruise-bleak, brood-drenched, “Gabriel” pulses with its protagonist’s eddying damage, a splendid vessel for Gabe’s suicidal urges, meds-shedding and diverse bipolar-inflected woes. Howe, using different means, is as intent as Lodge Kerrigan in his brutal psychological unravelings, “Keane” and “Clean, Shaven.” “Gabriel” is a different sort of stunner. With David Call, Deirdre O’Connell, Lynn Cohen. 90m. (Ray Pride)
“Gabriel” opens Friday, September 18 at Siskel. The trailer is below.