But within all this realism, the writers introduce a few too many coincidences to buy fully. Without giving too much away (hopefully), the nature of the car crash and where Bug and the other victims end up has a cosmically ordained feeling to it. The problem is that this “fate chooses our path” angle does not entirely gel with the gritty, kinetic sensation of intense drama and authentic emotions everything else in the movie gravitates towards. While the final few minutes of Gutterbug work well, the number of happenstances that need to happen to get there is too much to swallow.
But, no matter, as even with that issue present, the acting ensures that the viewer is never pulled entirely out of the film. Yeckel, who could be Sebastian Stan’s brother, is electrifying as Bug, and if there’s any sense of justice in the world, this will launch him to the A-list in no time. In a particularly tender moment, Bug confides to his drug dealer about why he decided not to commit suicide anymore. Yeckel’s body language as he nods towards Jenny and his defensiveness at some unsavory comments by the drug dealer perfectly highlights how truly in love he is. It is a perfectly acted moment, and for my money, I’d love for his performance to get some awards consideration once that time of year rolls around.
“…love for [Yeckel’s] performance to get some awards consideration once that time of year rolls around.”
Yeckel is bolstered by two extraordinary performances in Pietropaolo and Mosqueda. As the unhinged slim, Pietropaolo goes from being fun to terrifying in an instant and makes it work. When running from the cops, his deranged laughter is creepy, though infused with a sense of being alive. Mosqueda enters wordlessly, during a punk rock show, and she lights up the screen. The way she and Yeckel interact allows the audience to instantly understand and feel their burning passion. The entire cast is perfect, and each actor brings their A-game.
Gutterbug also boasts a tremendous soundtrack and exciting score. That is not a huge surprise given how vital the punk scene is to the film’s overall atmosphere. Composers Ben Berners-Lee and Drew Smith use the music to set the tempo and flow of individual scenes, which again, allows how everything (for the most) play out to feel realistic.
Gutterbug shoehorns in one too many fateful coincidences to be a full-blown masterpiece. But, overall, that is a minor bump in an otherwise intense, realistic examination of mental health and homelessness. Gibson directs with style and confidence, as amazing actors spout off wonderfully realistic, funny, and dramatic dialogue. This is absolutely a must-see.
"…a kinetic punk rock aesthetic..."