While there have been many films dealing with mental illness and psychological disease, very few are able to portray it in such an understated way as Lou Howe's Gabriel. Personally, I've been lucky enough to not have to deal with mental illness in my personal life, with friends and family I love, but Gabriel is a film that just feels very geniune in capturing the devastating nature of a family unit trying to deal with such tragedy. Released from a mental hospital only for a limited time to visit his brother and mother, Gabriel is a character who psychological state has reached a breaking point, tormented by his father's suicide, a man who himself was suffering from some type of mental disease. Gabriel's behavior is erratic around his family, completely convinced that the key to his happiness and salvation lies in reuniting with his ex-girlfriend, a woman he hasn't even seen in four or five years. Believing he is in love, Gabriel goes on a desperate pursuit to track this woman down, pushing to the limits the people around him who love him very much. Rory Caulkin, who plays Gabriel, gives unquestionably one of the better performances of the year, transforming into this character, capturing a man that gets lost in his own fractured psyche. The performance along with the narrative of this film truly capture the instability mental ailments can cause on individuals, regardless of them being around people they truly do love. Even around his brother, he can become hostile, viewing his as someone who is more loved in the family. How this character can fixate on negative or irritating situations is another interesting component, as the film captures the mounting frustration of a character who could do anythng. Gabriel is a film that never spoon feeds the audience anything about how Gabriel has become this way, letting the viewer slowly learn details about how his father's death played a part in his mental deterioration. Stylisticaly the film is more understated than most film of this type, with one of the more visceral scenes being in a diner where Gabriel slowly becomes increasingly frustrated by a ceiling fan. Flowing almost beneath the surface at times, the film Gabriel has a very subtle tension throughout its running time, eventualy exploding onto the screen in an intense finale that ends up quite devastating, where the illusion of his salvation being with his ex-girlfriend is shattered.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.