Julien Donkey-Boy is a 1999 Avant-Garde Film by Harmony Korine. It tells the story of the titular Julien (Ewen Bremner), a Paranoid Schizophrenic man living in New York with his pregnant sister, Pearl (Chloe Sevigny, Korine's girlfriend at the time), his aspiring Wrestler brother, Chris (Evan Neumann), and their Robitussin swigging, gas mask wearing, Bluegrass listening to Father (German Director Werner Herzog). Also grandma (Korine's grandmother, Joyce). Supporting characters include a no-armed, relentlessly positive Drummer (Alvin Law), a Black Albino straight from Alabama (Victor Varnado), an innocent, near blind girl (Chrissy Kobylak), and a Professional Cigarette-Eater (Tom Mullica). Lacking a traditional narrative, Julien Donkey-Boy presents a series of vignettes following these bizarre characters in their daily lives.
This film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Zig Zagging. At some points Dad seems eccentric, a bit stern, but loving, other times he's calling Pearl a "Dilettante and a slut," and paying Chris $10 to put on his dead mother's dress and dance with him. 'Cause he "Looks the most like your mother."
- Action Prologue: Debatable, but Julien's encounter with a young boy and his turtle definitely gives you some clues into the nature of his psyche.
- Brother–Sister Incest: Julien is the father of Pearl's baby. The exact circumstances of how or why this happened are only obliquely referenced in a series of polaroids.
- Dogme 95: Dogme #6, the first non European, as well as first American, Dogme film. Lars von Trier praised Korine for interpreting the notorious strictures of the Manifesto in a creative way.
- Le Film Artistique: It's Harmony Korine. Also Dogme 95.
- Godwin's Law: At one point Julien brandishes a BB gun at a poster of Adolf Hitler. "You killed the Jews, you killed the Hippies, you killed all the mothers' titties!"
- Gospel Revival Number: In one notable scene, moving Julien to tears.
- Grotesque Gallery: El Topo ain't got nothin' on Julien Donkey Boy.
- Hypocritical Humor: Dad's dislike of "Artsy-Fartsy" things. Considering he's played by Werner Herzog, this is likely intentional.
- Madness Mantra: "THE WIND IS BLIND, THE WIND IS BLIND, THE WIND IS BLIND."
- Mood-Swinger: Dad. Considering his daily habits, he's clearly not a stable individual. Julien himself also counts. Truth in Television.
- Purity Personified: Pearl, pregnancy notwithstanding.
- Signature Style: Continues Gummo's practice of interspersing faded polaroids, Documentary footage, and unusually photographed vignettes into a non standard Narrative. Adds to it the principles of Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg's Dogme 95 Movement, including extensive hand held camerawork, an eschewing of non-diegetic music, filming in grainy Digital Video, and leaving the director uncredited (Though Korine did include his name in the credits, just not with "Directed By").
- Surrealism: Yup.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: One interpretation, including Roger Ebert's.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: "WELL. I'M. A. BLACK ALBINO, STRAIGHT FROM ALABAMA, WAY DOWN SOUTH, AND Y'KNOW THAT I'M. A. BLACK ALBINO, STRAIGHT FROM ALABAMA..."