A man wanders out of the desert after a four year absence. His brother finds him, and together they return to L.A. to reunite the man with his young son. Soon after, he and the boy set out ... See full summary »
Harry Dean Stanton,
"O, mio babbino caro" plays as a woman skates gracefully. In contrast, little is graceful and daddy is not dear in Julien's world. His father listens to blues wearing a gas mask; dad prods, lectures, and derides Julien as well as Julien's brother and pregnant sister, while grandma attends to her dog. Julien is different, schizophrenic. He wears gold teeth. He bowls, sings, worships, and chats with a group of young adults with disabilities. His sister's child is probably his own. He talks on the phone, imagining it's his mother, who died in childbirth years before. He may be a murderer of children. From his point of view (perhaps), the film follows this odd family for a few weeks. Written by
Harmony Korine is one of Americas' bravest and best directors
Much like European directors Thomas Vinterberg, Lars Von Trier, Jean Luc Goddard, and Werner Herzog (who plays the father!), young American director Harmony Korine is not content to just produce a product. This is film as art. This is film as statement. This is film as reality. It is not escapism-quite the contrary; "Julien" offers nothing in the way of fantasy (other than it's a 'film' and therefore not 'real'). Rather, it injects the viewer into the nervous system of an American most would pretend doesn't exist. It follows a moment in time for Julien, a mentally deranged young man, and his family as they trudge through their mundane, yet disturbed lives. Opening with Julien apparently murdering a young boy in the woods, the viewer is immediately tuned in to just how disturbed he is. From here, the film gives a 'fly on the wall' view of his family; an exasperated father (Herzog), abusive out of his own failures-both personal and familial. A classically driven brother who, through amatuer wrestling, tries to impress daddy-to no avail. Rounding the unit out is his sister (Chloe Sevigny), a ray of light (albeit tainted) within the molassas thick dispair. As the film progresses, we get bits and pieces of a family in sharp decline; the madness isn't all Juliens' that's for sure. Information is given in fits and starts, like bad dreams in still shots. Being a so called 'Dogme' film, "Julien Donkey Boy" has a voyueristic bent, akin to watching a home movie you found on the street. This feeling is only heightened by the seemingly improvised acting (I say 'seemingly' because it can't be ALL impov; forget what you've heard "Julien" DOES have a plot, just not a conventional one). Obviously, "Julien Donkey Boy" is not for everybody, just as "Fitzcarraldo" is not for everyone. I personally found this film compelling. This is the way some people actually live- someone you know, maybe even yourself, and that's why this film works. If I have any criticism, it's not of "Julien" per se, but the fact that all of Korine's films have dealt with teenagers, therefore probably making it easier for some to dismiss his work as merely 'fringe'.
13 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?