This review was originally published in May of last year when Chris attended the Tribeca Film Festival. Gabriel is (finally) seeing a wider release now, so we are re-posting this review to highlight this film, which, according to Chris, is excellent.
When I first decided to go to TriBeCa, my goal was to see indie horror films, like Zombeavers, which I sadly didn’t attend because of work. However, there were a few non-horror films that caught my eye right away, and Gabriel was one of those films. It sounded like a solid idea, but once I sat down in the theatre, I completely forgot what the film was about.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone about a film without spoiling anything. Gabriel opens with our lead character, Gabe (played by Rory Culkin), as he takes a bus to a college so he can meet up with his first love after being separated for a few years. It’s clear very early on that not only is Gabe obsessed with this young lady that he can’t find, but he also seems to be a little off mentally. As the film progressed, I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with him. Did he have Asperger Syndrome or was it something more?
The film relies entirely on Rory Culkin to carry it. This is his character’s story, and he gives one hell of a performance. There are a few scenes that brought a few – okay, way too many – tears to my eyes, but mentioning them would be spoiling the film, so I won’t be able to get specific on which ones. The entire supporting cast also gives it their all, and it all comes together perfectly.
First-time director Lou Howe also wrote the screenplay for Gabriel. During the Q&A I attended, he offered up some great answers on how the film came to be. His passion and personal connection to the character of Gabriel is what allowed him to craft such a great picture. It is tightly shot, and not a scene is wasted. The way he captures Rory in the finale is just haunting. If you’re curious on how Howe came up with the script, here is what he told us: he grew up with someone very much like Gabriel. To better understand him, he decided to write a journal. This journal was the basis for the script.
Gabriel is a haunting look at obsession through the mind of a man who may or may not be all there mentally. If not for the terrific acting and solid script, this film could have been awful. Instead, this film is sure to break out of the film festival circuit, and might even have a chance of making it into, at least, a limited release. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this film gets a little steam during next years Oscars because, yes, the acting is that good, and I could even see a nomination for best script or even best director. Gabriel is easily my favorite film of 2014 thus far, and I doubt it will leave my top five by the end of the year. If you somehow get the chance to see Gabriel, please do.
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.