written and directed by Harmony Korine
I have decided it unnecessary to come back to julien donkey-boy following an interruption of my viewing, which occurred about fifteen minutes from the end, just as something critical had happened to one of the characters. My investment in this character and the rest was left quite distanced and without any concern. It doesn’t mean that the production, Harmony Korine’s effort in the Dogme 95 movement, was a waste of time. I just don’t encourage anyone to spend his or her minutes watching it.
Ewan Bremner plays Julien, a schizophrenic. He doesn’t have much of a story, but he has perception and much of the picture shows the world through his eyes. He sees his father (played by director Werner Herzog) and his brother and sister. He also sees an awful lot of freaks including an armless drummer and an albino rapper, all of who are displayed rather than incorporated. Korine doesn’t seem to have the same appreciation for oddities that John Waters has; his contempt is perhaps a way of separating Julien and urging our dissociation.
If julien donkey-boy is in fact meant as Korine’s affection for this boy –the director based the character loosely on his uncle –it would be better to allow a similar regard for him by the audience. But the picture is horribly grainy and the experimental camera and editing style is abrasive. I’m not looking for I am Sam, here, but I wanted even a tiny access point. Maybe it reminded me too much of Crispin Glover’s What Is It?, although that offensive film makes Korine’s seem like Rain Man in comparison, and therefore created a resentment on my part towards its abstractions.
I feel that despite my abandonment I became familiar enough with the movie to avoid feeling guilty (I tend not to permanently walk away from any film). julien donkey-boy is apprehensible in minutes and then becomes something experienced in the background, even if you aren’t doing anything else but watching it. So, if you insist on renting it, you might as well get out the ironing board or something.
SC: Tan The Man