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|Index||23 reviews in total|
I can't believe the tone of the external reviews linked to this
entry...these guys didn't get this film at all!!! What in god's name
did the bozos expect from a film adapted from a novel in French by an
author of obvious Eastern European descent?
"Julian Po" is a fable, folks, about life and death and all the states in between. It's funny and sad and bewildering and tragicomic in the way good European fiction can be and even good American fiction rarely is. It's beautifully cast with people from some of my favorite TV series, from "West Wing" to "Homicide" to "Remember WENN" and from some damn good films such as "Fargo" and "Kill Bill". It also has Christian Slater's best performance since "Heathers" and manages to be "quirky" in a way different from those generic indie films that equate quirkiness with quality.
It IS a little slow, because it moves at the pace of life, but this allows it time to fill each moment with the stuff of life. It misses being great because it doesn't have the final twist that takes it beyond our expectations, but it is nonetheless the best surprise I've come across in several years -- a genuine small, unheralded, lost gem.
Please don't read too much about it before you see it. Judge for yourself, with your heart and your head. This film should appeal to both parts of your anatomy.
"Julian Po" can be described as a darkly comedic drama with romantic
undertones. Mostly, though, "Julian Po" is just strange.
The film stars Christian Slater in the title role and, in terms of a very basic plot, somewhat resembles Hal Hartley's "Henry Fool." Like Henry, Julian wanders into an unnamed town and turns its residents' lives into a frenzy. However, unlike the joyfully arrogant Mr. Fool, Julian is glum, mysterious, and basically wants to stay anonymous.
A 30-year-old bookkeeper, he apparently was on his way to the sea when his car broke down, and he decided to stop in the little town. He checks into a broken-down hotel and immediately his presence strikes up curiosity in the weirdo townspeople. Thanks to the redneck-ish hotel manager ... the town mayor, his wife, the sheriff, the priest, etc. are all soon aware of Julian. They are also very suspicious of him! Some of them think he's a drug dealer, and the mayor's wife also convinces many of them that Julian is some sort of serial killer and has come to their town to kill again. Finally, they confront Julian in a restaurant, bombarding him with questions and demanding to know why he is there. Julian blurts out his answer; he did in fact come to the town to kill somebody ... himself.
This is where the movie gets really odd. All of a sudden, the townspeople are fascinated by Julian! They start stopping by his hotel room to chat and bring gifts. They confide their darkest secrets; they also come to Julian for advice, and take what he tells them to heart. A whole bunch of the townspeople, led by a gang of young boys, literally follow him around everywhere. The hotel manager presents him with a gun to do the deed, and an old woman even starts taking bets on which day Julian will "off" himself!
Julian is baffled by this, and vaguely annoyed, but mostly he humors the townsoddballs. And when a pretty young woman named Sarah comes to his hotel room, tells Julian she has been waiting for him all her life, and starts kissing him ... he's thrilled. (*spoiler alert*)Unfortunately, Julian's relationship with Sarah leads her to take her own life, as some kind of love proclamation. The townsfolk aren't happy with this; as a result, they more or less force Julian to do what he came to do.
Quirky as that story might sound, surprisingly "Julian Po" works. I've seen the film a few times now, and it's one of those movies I like a little more with each viewing. Writer-director Alan Wade succeeds at both of his jobs, particularly with his offbeat script. And Patrick Williams' score is lovely, haunting, and effective.
However, the strongest of "Julian Po"'s assets are its characters -- and the talented cast that brings these characters to life. Christian Slater is fabulous as Julian! Tunney brings a nice intensity to her portrayal of the sweater-knitting Sarah.
Also noteworthy, in smaller roles, are: Cherry Jones as the hotel manager's mute housekeeper sister who may or may not have a crush on Julian (though her inquisitive eyes and perpetual frown might bug some at first); Allison Janney as the gossipy, busybody mayor's wife, Lilah Leech; Jeremy Jordan as Bobby, a mechanic who wants to be a movie star -- despite the fact that he says "Are you talking' to me?!" in the same tone he says everything else; Dina Spybey as Bobby's mousy blonde wife, who pledges to do anything for Julian; and Zeljko Ivanek as the men's clothing store owner -- who confesses to Julian his crush on Leon, the town sheriff. Many members of this cast are staples on Broadway, and that shows in their performances. ("Julian Po" is in fact very play-like.)
I must also give mention to young Io Tillett Wright. Miss Wright is a girl, but if I didn't happen to know that fact ... well, let's just say her portrayal of a boy named Walter makes Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry" look like the girliest icon of femininity. Wright looks like a boy, walks like a boy, talks like a boy. I guess it's a testament to Wright's acting skills, but it did make me wonder -- why not just cast a boy?
There are a few things wrong with "Julian Po" that make me unable to rate it higher than I did. One big problem I had with the movie was its portrayal of the town pastor. At first, he is just kind of overearnest. Later on, though, a talk with Julian leads to a sermon in which the pastor announces, with great zeal, that he doesn't believe in God. This is yet another similarity the film shares with "Henry Fool" ... but at least in 'Henry' the pastor was more of a doubter ... and not an out-and-out goon like the pastor in this movie. Granted, almost everybody in "Julian Po" is a goon -- but, still, I do get tired of almost all religious characters in movies being played as evil or foolish. It's so unoriginal. Religion does not always make someone a bad guy.
But my other gripes about "Julian Po" are mostly minor...e.g. the film takes awhile to get into. Overall, if you're a fan of small quirky movies, "Julian Po" is worth checking out. And if you don't like it at first, give it another chance...it just might grow on you.
A truly tender tale and one that makes a person to reflect on life and its for a handicapped person The acting is superb showing that Christian Slater can really handle a demanding role with skill; I note that the commentator who hides behind the name of "anonymous" says that "it could have been been better but does not say how it could have been so.. My feeling is someone of that irk might say "Casablanca" or "Gone with the Wind" "could have been better." Ha!
This is the kind of film you can only sit through after midnight whilst
flicking incoherently through the channels. That is how i came upon
such a strange film, one which i could not stop watching, despite the
efforts of the oncoming dawn light telling me to.
Slater plays his role very well as the confused outsider, a role that the audience can only find themselves joining him in, and Tunney's performance as the attractive girl who wants to run away from home is also well performed. All in all, this is a good film to sit through only if you are in an open minded mood, if you are feeling at all skeptical, leave it on the shelf.
I saw it on one of the arts channels 2 days in a row last year and was surprised at how much better it was the second time. It's an unusual movie, to be sure, the type that doesn't make a ton of money but it IS a good film. It has good direction, good characters and a good cast. You don['t walk away feeling like you've been hit in the face with a ton of bricks. Its much more subtle than that. And it doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to realize that this is a slightly different version of the last 3 days in the life of Jesus. I'm serious. Watch it again with this idea in mind and watch all the pieces fall together. I'm by no means a religious person and this is not a religious movie but the parallels are there. Like I said, watch it again, its worth your time.
Julian Po (Christian Slater) is headed to the beach. A bookkeeper by profession, his life is not evolving the way he wanted it to, so he has quit his job in favor of this quest. However, before he reaches the beloved ocean of his dreams, his car breaks down and he walks to the nearest town. Talk about an unwelcoming committee! Although he is rented a room at a boarding house, Julian is immediately under intense scrutiny and avid speculation. All of the town folks, the mayor (Harve Presnell), his wife (Allison Janney), and the rest are convinced that Mr. Po is a killer-drifter, a con-artist, or, well, fill in the blank. Finally confronting him on his second day, at a diner, the residents are startled to hear that Julian's main plan is to commit suicide. All of a sudden, he is extended the hand of friendship for choosing their village as "the spot". The barber gives him a free haircut, stating that undertakers do lousy work, and Julian also gets a new suit, delicious muffins, and a marriage proposal from beautiful Sarah (Robin Tunney). It's heady stuff. Soon, kids are betting on what day the deed will be done and folks are coming to Julian for advice and fervent goodbyes. But, now Julian is not so sure what he wants, especially with the lovely Sarah in his life. Will Mr. Po follow through? This is a delightful movie, with an outstanding script of humor and insight. The credits state that it is based on a classic foreign novel, which is unfamiliar to most, but Alan Wade did a great adaptation of the work. Also fine are the cast members, including Slater, Tunney, Janney, Presnell, Cherry Jones, and all, all of the others. The small town setting is a beautiful, the costumes are well-chosen, and the cinematography and direction are most competent. The only caveat may be that the film's jacket doesn't do it justice, giving few clues to the strength of the story. Therefore, if you passed it by at the video store, thinking it appeared dull, ponder again. Po is not "po" but very rich.
Indeed, if it's simple, it works. But the irony herein lies when you realize that simplicity and deep thought combinations, make extraordinary things. And this film, in my opinion, is simply delightful. Simple purpose, yet very thought-provoking in itself. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. Being one of the few who find that the critics aren't always "up to par" so to speak, I think this flick was definately worth it's weight in gold. Go have some fun. Watch this. And when you're through, though you may be left saying "Uh... but..." see if you don't feel the same.
This movie has an intriguing plot that is carried out by strange and
wonderful characters. It examines one man's time spent in a small town
where the townspeople put undue faith and expectations on him.
Because the people believe the man's time is coming to an end, they seek guidance and knowledge from him that he isn't necessarily qualified to give.
The subsequent changes in people and their stories carry the audience through a variety of emotions and leave one contemplating the nature of human existence.
Highly recommended. Slater and Tunney are particularly good.
Poetic, tragic, pathetic, funny, and romantic do not do this movie justice. A great and subtle piece of film-making with great performances and a splendid and unobtrusive soundtrack. There are no easy answers. There is no Hollywood ending.... See this movie!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Remember that Christian Slater already did a film about an alienated
guy in a small town who alleviates his anomie by narrating his streams
of consciousness. It was called "Pump Up The Volume." Only in that
film, he spoke on a Ham Radio show, rather than into a cheap tape
I enjoyed this film. Let's get certain things out of the way first. Yes, the characters, while funny, quirky, and interesting, were over-baked and unrealistic. Yes, to a degree, it showed a condescending portrayal of small town folk, and yes, it portrayed a clergy person who was all too happy to admit that he had not faith, thus keeping in step with the Hollywood view of religion.
The most confusing scene to me, by far, was when he makes a sincere religious blonde strip for him, after she tells him that she will do anything to comfort him. Another reviewer said that he did this to humiliate her and highlight her naivete, so that Hollywood could take another swing at religious people.
But maybe he felt he was doing it to her for her own good...to call her bluff and make her re-analyze the extent of her convictions. Or maybe he was just horny, and he liked the power surge that she offered him at that moment...the idea that she was his slave.
I don't know why he stood back-to-back with her, unless that was some kind of symbolic bonding mechanism or his way of showing that he was just as confused and lost as her..that he was her mirror image.
Having said all that, the dialogue and delivery were excellent, and Slater's facial expressions were priceless.
One clarification..The main character did NOT come to town to kill himself. (Unless you want to go out on a limb and say that maybe he really did.)He just wanted to get the people off his back and alleviate their fear that he came to town to kill them.
The movie was an example of "existential" French philosophy. It was also a commentary on the vastness of America, and how that can affect some people. This guy was "a nowhere man." All his life he had simply blended into the framework of mid-sized city life, without any distinction. He had no special skills or attributes. But the one thing he could call his own, was his longing for something better.
His age, 30, was significant. That's when you first realize that your youth is over forever, and you look into the future as either a glass half full or a glass half empty. No doubt, turning 30 is part of what made him quit his job and head for the sea.
There are numerous references in dialogue, to the fleeting nature of life, and to the idea that many people are living lives of quiet desperation. This proposed the idea that our lack of time should motivate us to act on our dreams, or that we all live with the illusion that we are never going to die. There is always tomorrow.
The film managed to squeeze in a gay guy, some black folks, some minor sex, kids, religion, deafness, and hunting.
Another reviewer also mentioned that the film moved at the pace of life. (Or at least in a small town) I like that. It's true. In real life, we have many boring, uneventful moments when we are just sitting in a room, or walking.
Most movies have so much background music going, that you don't notice these moments, or the music romanticizes them. In Julian Po the music is subtle and non-existent at times, so we get a real sense of how boring certain moments in life can be. (Him pacing in his room) If you can suspend belief with regard to certain unrealistic plot devices, like a lack of ways of getting out of the town and a hotel with no guests, and you are the type who can relax and appreciate dialogue, check this one out.
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