Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Harmony Korine (Uncredited)|
|Produced by||Cary Woods
|Written by||Harmony Korine (Uncredited)|
|Cinematography||Anthony Dod Mantle|
|Editing by||Valdís Óskarsdóttir|
|Distributed by||Fine Line Features|
|Running time||94 minutes|
Julien Donkey-Boy is a 1999 American drama film written and directed by Harmony Korine. The story concentrates on the schizophrenic Julien, played by Scottish actor Ewen Bremner, and his dysfunctional family. The film also stars Chloë Sevigny as Julien's sister, Pearl, and Werner Herzog as his father. Julien Donkey-Boy is the sixth film to be made under the self-imposed rules of the Dogme 95 manifesto, and the first non-European film to be made under the Dogme 95 "vow of chastity". Julien Donkey-Boy utilizes several cinematographic styles, including stop-motion photography, parallel cuts, and still photographs in order to tell its story. It was filmed on MiniDV tape, transferred onto 16mm film, and finally blown-up on 35mm film, giving it a grainy aesthetic.
The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1999. It received a limited release in Los Angeles at a single cinema on October 15, 1999; the film showed for a month's time at the Los Angeles theater, and grossed a total of $80,226 by that November. It was given a wide theatrical release in European countries the following year, particularly in France and the Netherlands.
Julien, a young man with untreated schizophrenia, lives in a dysfunctional family with his sister who is possibly carrying his child, his athletic brother, and his domineering, German father. While his father dances in his room to Dock Boggs records while wearing a gas mask, his brother continually works-out in the hopes of becoming a wrestler, Julien is often walking the streets, or talking to himself as "King Julien".
- Ewen Bremner as Julien
- Chloë Sevigny as Pearl
- Werner Herzog as Father
- Evan Neumann as Chris
- Joyce Korine as Grandma
- Chrissy Kobylak as Chrissy
- Victor Varnado as Rapper
- Brian Fisk as Pond boy
- Virginia Reath as Gynecologist
- Alvin Law as Card-playing neighbor
- Tom Mullica as Magician
- Ricky Ashley as Hassidic boy
- Carmela García as Nurse
It was the first American film made in accordance with the Danish filmmaking manifesto Dogme 95. Shot on MiniDV tape, the film was transferred to 16mm film before being blown up to 35mm film for the master print. Korine used this method to give the film a low-definition degraded look.
Korine broke a few of the Dogme 95 rules in making the film. For example, Dogme 95 stipulates that all props must be found at the location of filming. Julien's dead baby is a prop found in the maternity unit of the hospital where the scene was shot; it was used by the nurses there to practice pre-natal CPR. Also, all the camerawork is supposed to be handheld, but this film uses hidden cameras, technically not handheld. There is also non-diegetic music (Oval's "Mediaton" from Systemisch in the ice-skating scene, same group's "Shop In Store" from 94 Diskont), although it sounds like it alternates between diegetic and non-diegetic use. And finally, the director must not be credited; Korine is credited (however, the film only gives his name — it does not say "directed by Harmony Korine", just "Harmony Korine").
Despite these transgressions, the original Dogme 95 committee endorsed Julien Donkey-Boy. In an interview on the Epidemic DVD, Lars Von Trier, Dogme 95 co-creator, lauded Korine's ability to interpret the rules creatively.
Release and reception
Following the film's release in Venice, it hit Los Angeles, playing at a single cinema from mid-October to early November 1999, grossing a total of $80,226 on a single screen. Critical reaction to the film was negative and Julien Donkey-Boy currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews.
Empire Magazine said that "Despite some creditable performances, Korine's bizarre, shambling direction renders the result less ground-breakingly experimental than rectum-numbingly dull." Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "A self-indulgent mess."
Despite a sense of negative reaction to the film, it was praised by some critics. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, saying the film attained a "depth of compassion and understanding ... [it] acquires a spiritual dimension that allows it ultimately to become an act of redemption". Additional praise for the film came from Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3/4 stars, saying that "[The film] adds up to something, unlike a lot of movies where individual shots are sensational, but they add up to nothing"; Ebert did, however, note that the film had a very limited audience: "The odds are good that most people will dislike this film and be offended by it. For others, it will provoke sympathy rather than scorn. You know who you are".
- Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) - Box office / business
- "Box office/Business for Julien Donkey-Boy". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- "Review: Julien Donkey-Boy". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
- Guthmann, Edward (29 October 1999). "Low-Tech 'Julien' is an Ugly Mess- Korine throws aesthetics out the window". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- Thomas, Kevin (15 October 1999). "L.A. Times Review: Julien Donkey-Boy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 October 2009.[dead link]
- Ebert, Roger (5 November 1999). "Julien Donkey-Boy Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- Julien Donkey-Boy at the Internet Movie Database
- Julien Donkey-Boy at Rotten Tomatoes
- Julien Donkey-Boy @ Harmony-Korine.com
- Julien Donkey-Boy trailer
- The Name of this Film is Dogme 95
- The Making of Julien Donkey-Boy