22 April 2014 6:20 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Giving an electrifying performance as a mentally disturbed young man, Rory Culkin dominates every scene of “Gabriel,” writer-director Lou Howe’s indie debut. But that domination proves both the film’s greatest strength and its biggest weakness: As different aspects of the character’s unchanging mentality are skillfully revealed, Howe successfully alters viewers’ perceptions. But instead of having his protagonist interact with other fully formed personalities, the script sets up a gallery of one-dimensional characters who exist solely to reveal themselves as indifferent to his needs or totally fixated on them. An admirable if downbeat character study, “Gabriel” still sinks into a psychological quagmire that’s unlikely to captivate arthouse audiences.

Gabriel (Culkin) has just been tentatively released from the asylum where he spent the past several years. This, everyone solemnly informs him, will be his last chance to demonstrate that he’s capable of functioning outside captivity by going home to his family, »


- Ronnie Scheib

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