The Gully made its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Finally, after all the restrictions due to the pandemic, two years later, he reached the box office. With a wonderful cast consisting of Jacob Latimore, Terrence Howard, Amber Heard, Charlie Plummer and Calvin Harrison Jr., the trail follows three teenagers who go through childhood trauma and cause a mindless bloody rampage on the streets of Los Angeles, having lost hope because of the cruel and destructive environment and succumbed to their worst impulses.
Critics immediately acclaimed this bright and dark art debut by famed music video director Nabil Elderkin and his team of cinematographer Adriano Goldman, production designer Jeremy Reid and editor Damion Clayton. They painstakingly approach material that took screenwriter Marcus Guillory 15 years to write, convincingly crafting a dystopian vision of the California metropolis.
Nabil is no stranger to manipulating and creating stunning visuals. Well versed in the world of music videos as a videographer, he has worked with renowned artists such as Travis Scott, Billy Eilish, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and many more. His experience with musicians even made a cameo appearance on the big screen with Scott, who also executive produced the film, and Vince Staples.
Finally, full of passion to convey the story well, Nabil intertwined video game elements as a direct nod to social issues and explored deeper themes such as sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse, and gang violence. The result is an emotional and heartbreaking look at the lives of young people who just want to get to the stars from Hollywood.
What is the movie “Gully” 2019 about
The main characters of “Gully” are Calvin, Jesse and Nicky. They are best friends from a depressed Los Angeles area who spend time together and protect each other. Calvin, the most irascible, is intelligent but suffers from severe mental health issues and skips school despite his single mother’s best efforts.
Nicky is only slightly less prone to violent antics. Although he is attentive to his younger brother, he despises his mother, who is a prostitute and drug addict. In addition, he has to face a difficult choice, as a classmate became pregnant from him, which threatens him with a prison term due to her minor age. The quietest of them is Jesse, but only because of his illness, which is expressed in almost complete dumbness.
As the story progresses, it is revealed that all three suffer from childhood trauma. Calvin witnessed his father being shot dead by a police officer, while Nicky was beaten by his peers in the front yard. Jesse, however, suffered the most. As a child, he was kidnapped from the laundry room by the pedophile Mr. Charlie, a married family man who has continued to visit him ever since to hand over money and food, but in return each time he actually rapes the guy.
This all leads to the trio committing reckless acts, beating up local dealers in order to steal drugs. They also follow the driver who insulted them on their way to their house, terrorize him and his wife and steal his SUV, in which they then take three teenage tourists from another city into a wild night that ends with more robberies and violence. And that’s all before Calvin and Nicky decide to get back at Mr. Charlie for what he did to Jesse.
A desperate story of life’s decline is interrupted by a pair of elderly people who are trying to change their world. One of them is Greg, who has just been released from prison for assault and is trying to reform. He stays with his loving mother and sees Calvin in particular as in danger and in need of a father. The other is Mr. Christmas, a homeless man who acts as a thinker of sorts, muttering poetic comments about wasted lives and broken dreams.
These characters further burden the plot, already overloaded with heavy symbolism and banality. Greg, for example, spends most of his time not just fiddling with a lawnmower in the hope of finding a job, but also building a cabin for himself in his mother’s backyard. Jesse is often found snuggled up in his bathtub, cutting himself off from the world both physically and refusing to speak – except for his constant voice-over, of course. Nicky’s concern for her brother reflects his concern for his unborn child.
And Calvin really proves that this is a special case. He often expresses his intention to fly to Venus, and on his birthday his mother, for some reason, gives him a bright cape in which he sits on a rooftop and looks up at the sky. He also cherishes his skateboard, and when he gets hit by a wayward car and breaks in half, he reverently buries it.
Only after this, Calvin completely loses control, which opens up the opportunity for him to take revenge on someone who was unfair. All this leads to the fact that he, along with Nicky, end up behind bars. But these tragedies force Jesse to literally find his voice again – a glimmer of hope in a seemingly utterly dire situation.
The meaning of the film “Gully” 2019
It should be noted that the action takes place in a dystopian version of Los Angeles, and all three main characters experience problems in different ways. Jesse is mute due to his injury, and his abusive stepfather Johnny is even more terrifying than meets the eye.
Niki has a tendency to lash out at everyone around her. Calvin is possibly the wildest of them all; he is prone to self-destruction in the most disturbing ways. The neighbors care little for either of them, only concerned about their crazy antics and the constant presence of the police.
At first glance, The Gully seems to point directly to video game culture. As the guys go on their rampage, the director brings up video game images from something like Grand Theft Auto V, showing on screen how many pills the guys just swallowed and how they’ve now reached a new “rank”.
Through this show structure, viewers follow the characters in their circumstances as they decide to take their violent video game avatars out onto the streets to commit acts of the most brutal acts.
In the narration, Jesse carefully emphasizes that it was Calvin’s idea to “take the game outside”. And so they smashed the video store and shook all the films off the shelves. They randomly attack people and beat them for pills; they steal cars. They pick up random people with the clear intention of playing with them, with Jesse pretending to be a famous artist just out of a recording studio.
In its main sense, it becomes a story about randomly connected acts of rage. For example, the main characters stalk a married couple after a traffic accident and terrorize them in their home. They rob tourists. They take revenge on the one who mocked Jesse. All this does not lead to anything good. None of this has any weight, only confirming the fact that one violence will always breed more violence.
Explanation of the ending of the movie “Gully” 2019
At the end of the film, it becomes clear that everything before that was shown in the form of flashbacks from Jesse’s memory and his off-screen narration, with the help of which he tries to explain each of the wild actions of these flawed and outrageous young people who act out of rage due to their circumstances. This is a very interesting scripting decision considering that Jesse is not always present and does not actually speak throughout the film.
In addition, there is also a sentimental philosophical dialogue with the homeless Mr. Christmas in the ending, in which there is a beautiful phrase that “sadness is like a treasure, and you only show it to your friends.”
The final act becomes violent and tragic when it comes time to pay off debts. As such, The Gully does not attempt to idealize or glorify the antics of its protagonists, preferring instead to scrutinize their origins and livelihoods.
On top of that, the end credits art is just as stunning and surreal as anything that came before. It’s worth watching the full credits just to see this beautiful piece of art as it zooms in to reveal the true scope of the characters’ life tragedy.