Julien Donkey-Boy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Julien Donkey-Boy

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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. After certifying that it was made in accordance with the rules of Dogma 95, this movie, shot on digital video apparently without added light, moves on to self-contained yet expansive sequences that include nearly abstract images of a pirouetting ice-skater and tight, loving shots of Sevigny as it integrates linear narrative, free narrative, and nonnarrative. Gummo writer-director Harmony Korine, who also wrote Kids, 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 magnanimous poetry inspires free association rather than generic emotion. Fine Arts.

--Lisa Alspector

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