6.7/10
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71 user 47 critic

Julien Donkey-Boy (1999)

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2:15 | Clip
A portrait of the effects of schizophrenia on family life is the central focus.

Director:

Harmony Korine

Writer:

Harmony Korine
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 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

Macaulay Culkin, who earlier worked with Harmony Korine on the video for Sonic Youth's "Sunday", turned down a role in the film because he wasn't ready to start acting again. See more »

Quotes

Father: Where are you mount Everest? Give me some Everest.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Micro-Shocks: Everything's Wrong (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

I Got You (I Feel Good)
Written by James Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Somewhat reflexive presentation about schizophrenia
15 May 2011 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

Do not expect to be entertained, and do not expect to be overwhelmed by the aesthetic of this film. Julien Donkey Boy is no more beautiful than its subject. Harmony Korine, in directing and writing this film, has done exactly what he set out to do - he has created a concentrated dose of family life with schizophrenia. In saying that the experience is concentrated, what I mean is that the film uses exaggeration rather liberally in order to condense its somewhat impossibly defined subject matter. Although there are certainly interwoven story arcs for the main characters, there is no central plot, no linearity, no unfragmented reality. The film itself, therefore, is just a little unhinged.

One of my older sisters was schizophrenic. You would have to condense a couple decades worth of her psychotic episodes into a couple of hours to get anywhere near the level of constant distress that is depicted in this film. I most closely related to the character of Pearl, Julien's pregnant sister, but recognized aspects of my own family in all of the characters. What I am trying to say is that there is certainly some truth to what this movie says and the archetypal characters portrayed, its truth may be hard to recognize if you haven't lived through it.

Living with a schizophrenic will bring out and amplify your own nature - and if you are open to it, you will be a better person. It is also, however, fairly easy to allow the experience to overwhelm you. People who have never been exposed to schizophrenia in any but a superficial way will find most of the film's characters and vignettes very difficult to believe. I am pretty sure Korine knew this going in.

Korine has portrayed schizophrenia in a sensitive and truthful, but nevertheless utterly disturbing and somewhat unrealistically condensed way. Every directorial decision is meant to create a sense of realism. The method is very effective, and the film is essentially successful. Julien intentionally and clearly positions its audience as voyeurs, using hand-held photography almost exclusively and allowing character- development (the bulk of the film) to dictate the pace and rhythm of every scene. All of the acting is superb, and although there are very few feel-good moments in this film, it may be somewhat cathartic for folks like me, and somewhat (painfully) enlightening for those who grew up in less dysfunctional, or more-traditionally dysfunctional, families.


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