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.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.