6.7/10
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70 user 47 critic

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

A portrait of the effects of schizophrenia on family life is the central focus.

Director:

Harmony Korine

Writer:

Harmony Korine

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3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ewen Bremner ... Julien
Brian Fisk Brian Fisk ... Pond Boy
Chloë Sevigny ... Pearl (as Chloe Sevigny)
Werner Herzog ... Father
Joyce Korine Joyce Korine ... Grandma
Evan Neumann ... Chris
Miriam Martínez Miriam Martínez ... Teenage Girl (as Miriam Martinez)
Edgar Erikkson Edgar Erikkson ... Bearded Man
James Moix James Moix ... Dancing Man
Victor Varnado Victor Varnado ... Rapper
Oliver A. Bueno Oliver A. Bueno ... Bowler
Roger Harris Roger Harris ... Bowler
Josseph Padilla Josseph Padilla ... Bowler
Olivia Pérez Olivia Pérez ... Bowler (as Olivia Perez)
Freddie Perez Freddie Perez ... Bowler
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Storyline

"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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexuality and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 September 2000 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Dogme # 6 - Julien Donkey-Boy See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,845, 10 October 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$80,226, 7 November 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The house in which Julien and his family live is, in reality, the home of Joyce Korine, the director's grandmother, who also plays Julien's grandmother in the film. See more »

Quotes

Pearl: Keep brushing your teeth and you will always be a happy person.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Beautiful Losers (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

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Performed by Oval
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User Reviews

A work of real filmic art
20 November 2001 | by vidalia15See all my reviews

Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy, is nothing less than real filmic art. It chronicles a day or so in the life of Julien, a teenage schizophrenic, and the other family members he lives with: his sister, his frustrated and abusive father, played nicely by Werner Herzog, (of all people), his younger brother, and his grandmother.

The effect is like watching Leave it to Beaver on acid--a haunting picture of a family paralyzed by their own dysfunctionality, so pervasive it is that it virtually crushes any hope of what most of us would call a "normal" life. The real tragedy is knowing that we are merely glimpsing a fictional account of what many real families with similar situations have to endure. The film isn't a success solely due to its effectively disturbing chronicle of a mentally ill teen, but rather, HOW it chronicles the life of this character. Korine is a master of using film to communicate story and messages, specifically through the use of editing, cinematography and visual effects. This is amazing, since at only 27, Korine has more visual ownership of the medium than do most directors with twice his experience.

Yet, Korine's movies are not popular. Most people wouldn't have a clue as to what's going on in them. This is because Korine uses visual symbols and other filmic elements to reveal the plot and character development. And he does this masterfully. For example, in one scene, we see the images as if on a videophone, frame-by-frame, with erratic cuts in the action. Yet, the sound flows as normal. Korine uses this technique to symbolize the main character's fragmented view of the world -- a view that is dramatically distorted from our own. This is brilliant filmmaking -- an example of "show, don't tell" yet through use of film form rather than character action.

Indelibly, it is Korine's unconventional film style, of which a good deal looks experimental, yet all of which is handled expertly, that will also keep him at the fringes of the film world, barring him the popularity he deserves. This is too bad since he brings as much to the art of independent film as Scorcese does to the Hollywood film. Yet Korine will never have the accessibility of the other.

In this film, Korine reveals the character of Julien not only through his actions, but via his reactions to those around him and to his environment. This is a hard task for a filmmaker to achieve since those who don't know the particular "reason" for a scene or for its purpose, will be lost. The film demands an aggressive viewer, one who wants to share the boldness of the director's vision, while deciphering it through his or her own knowledge of film conventions and prior knowledge.

Julien Donkey-Boy is not as emotionally powerful as Korine's previous film, Gummo, yet it is just as important in what it has to say about film as a medium of communication, and, about the people who are living at the margins of society.


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