Gully | Nabil Elderkin | Tribeca 2019
Gully focuses on three friends (Jacob Latimore, Charlie Plummer, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and the way that they pass the time in a dystopian Los Angeles. They all have troubled, violent pasts that have leaked into their present, which causes them to lash out in disturbing and violent ways.
Directed by music video director Nabil Elderkin, Gully sees Elderkin bring his own visual splendor and flair to narrative storytelling in what feels like the closest thing that we will have to seeing Grand Theft Auto adapted for the big screen.
This is not a compliment, as the film guides us with the disturbing moments that these three inflict on their world without any sense of remorse. Our understanding is that the violence that they have suffered as young children results in the cycle of violence which they are the unfortunate victims of. This is contrasted with the return of their neighbor Greg (Jonathan Majors), recently released from prison, who went down the wrong path that these three characters seem destined to end up heading down as well.
While the messages and themes packed into Marcus J. Guillory’s screenplay should be powerful, they were completely lost on me, thanks to the deranged nature of the film and the over-the-top stylistic direction from Elderkin. Many of the elements and scenes depicted are familiar and have been done in a more effective manner in other films that take a more thoughtful route about a similar topic or theme.
The failures aren’t on the performers, as Latimore, Plummer, Harrison Jr., and Majors all sell their respective roles. The same can’t be said from Amber Heard who never is convincing in her role as Plummer’s mother, and a strange turn from Terrence Howard, who is completely wasted here.
There is definitely enough here to prove that Elderkin has a great visual eye, but in terms of narrative storytelling, Gully leaves much to be desired, ultimately leaving me feeling cold and detached from a story that I should be affected by.