(1999)2.5Brian J. DillardMore exhausting than elucidative, the follow-up to Gummo finds writer/director Harmony Korine again mining his tropes of dysfunction, disease, and depravity. This time, however, he foregoes much of the surreal comedy and visual punch of the earlier film. With a title character loosely based on the director's own uncle, it's no surprise that Julien Donkey-Boy seems to have more sympathy for its protagonist than Gummo did for the majority of its hapless characters. Yet the endless badgering of Werner Herzog's gas mask-wearing father, the ceaseless procession of outre supporting characters, and the banal brutality of almost every interaction -- all these elements quickly grow tiresome. That's not to say the film is without its moments. In the title role, Trainspotting alum Ewen Bremner gives a fearless performance that sometimes even verges on goofy charm, while Chloe Sevigny exudes determined serenity in a series of pastoral and domestic interludes. The scene in which Sevigny's tender sister pretends to be Julien's mother, telephoning from beyond the grave, is as sad and amusing as it is strangely sweet. Yet too much of the 90 minutes between the shockeroo opening scene and the overwrought conclusion simply meanders, caught up in its own lackadaisical transgression. Despite Korine's adoption of the Dogma 95 manifesto and the input of some of that movement's leading lights (cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, editor Valdis Oskarsdottir), Julien Donkey-Boy proves as muddy visually as it does conceptually. Too little happens, what does happen is almost uniformly unpleasant, and all of it is filmed in deliberately ugly digital video. The result is a film that upholds its director's difficult reputation, but not the squalidly beautiful promise of his debut.