Julien is a young man who works as an attendant at a school for the blind, and lives in New Jersey as part of a disturbed and dysfunctional family. Julien himself is schizophrenic; as the story begins he has befriended a young boy in some woods, only to batter him to death in an impulsive act. His sister, Pearl, is pregnant; his father is abusive and tyrannical, given to outrageous behaviour in the family home. Julien’s brother, Chris, an aspiring wrestler, and Julien’s grandmother complete the family. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that Julien’s illness and his disturbing family life will lead to tragedy. –BFI
Harmony Korine (born January 4, 1973) is a US film director and writer. He first appeared in the public’s eye as the author of film director Larry Clark’s debut, Kids, a tale of irresponsible teenagers in New York which garnered rave reviews but was literally unable to be seen by the intended audience due to the NC-17 / unrated rating.
Following the success of that Harmony directed and co-produced Gummo, another unique story loosely based around the premise of aspects of life in Xenia, Ohio, post-tornado (although most of it was not filmed there). Harmony cast himself in the film, which features very unusual / disturbing images (bacon on the walls, deaf people arguing, delinquent children) in a bit part as a shy gay teenager. He also had a cameo in Kids as a clubgoer. His sometimes girlfriend, actress Chloë Sevigny (who first appeared in Kids) was perhaps the most well-known star in an otherwise largely non-actors movie.
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What an astounding film. This really blew me away. Such passion in the performances. Such beauty in the presentation. Such reality in the film. These are characters that you sympathize for, yet study deeply. The sound production also impressed me very much. Some very wild musical moments bring this dysfunction to life. The script is full of lines that will make you laugh, yet stop mid-way and think. Beautiful film!
I overlooked this film on arrival, but I was wrong. It seems like one of the most original films of the 90s, and an improvement on Gummo in the sense that Korine no longer hides behind the wish for an "authorless" film. This film was _made_, in the best sense, by extraordinary artists who work their asses off but don't give a damn if you like them or not.
Watching this movie would brush off any petty faith in idealisms that concern humanity, with a stroke of harsh realism. Julien might be the real embodiment of a conservative american whose schizophrenia is expressed through obsessive and delusional beliefs about religion and god. Mental Illness, abusive dads, miscarriage, religious mania, wrestling; this movie couldn't be more white trash. Normality is a privilege.