Julien Donkey-Boy | Chicago Reader

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Julien (Ewen Bremner), who's distracted by obsessive thoughts and driven to compulsive behavior, is surrounded by a semisatiric pathogenic family: filmmaker Werner Herzog dominates as a tough-loving father figure; pregnant sister Pearl (Chloe Sevigny) places phone calls to Julien from within the house, soothing him by pretending to be their dead mother; brother Chris (Evan Neumann) wrestles with Julien, competing for paternal praise and abuse. Shot on digital video, apparently without added light, this 1999 feature integrates linear narrative, free narrative, and nonnarrative; writer-director Harmony Korine (Gummo) nods to conventional drama by creating suspense about the imminent birth of a baby whose father's identity may seem mysterious, yet the movie is truly an open text—its generous poetry inspires free association rather than predictable emotion. 94 min.

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