Protagonist | Chicago Reader

Protagonist

When Jessica Yu (In the Realms of the Unreal) was approached to make a documentary about Euripides, she decided to go with present-day subjects who personified what she calls the “tragedy of the extremist”: Mark Salzman, a bullied child who became a martial arts fanatic; Mark Pierpont, a repressed homosexual who became a Christian evangelist; Joe Loya, a victim of parental abuse who became a serial bank robber; and Hans-Joachim Klein, a policeman's son who became a radical terrorist and associate of the Baader-Meinhof gang. Their stories range from the pedestrian to the extraordinary, but Yu gives them all equal weight, shoehorning them into a scholarly superstructure that includes portentous quotations from the Greek and Janie Geiser's rod puppets enacting scenes from Euripides. Pretentious and overconceived, the movie purports to celebrate self-determination yet squashes it at every turn. 90 min.

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