Vikram Gandhi’s Barry is 2016’s second biopic about the (at the time of writing) current American President, after the Barack-Michelle first-date movie Southside with You, and it is similarly concerned with honing in on a specific short period of Obama’s life, using it as a means of examining how this time informed a path the man would later take, rather than attempting to tell an entire life’s story. It’s a completely different approach to Oliver Stone’s W., which was another film about a US President to debut at the tail-end of their tenure in the White House. While that messy chronicle suggested a veteran filmmaker having lost his game just a tad, Barry, as Gandhi’s non-documentary feature debut, suggests a promising new voice in American cinema…
Though only a few of his films have received UK distribution (see 2009’s The Portuguese Nun), US-born, France-based director Eugène Green has accrued a significant arthouse fanbase across the world, via a steady run of eccentric dramas, each driven by a rigid commitment to Baroque theatre techniques. No one behaves quite like a human being in his filmography, but their humanity shines through the mannered delivery.
Although still reliant on that same performance style, Green’s more overtly comedic new film, The Son of Joseph, offers a considerably more accessible, playful distillation of his filmmaking. It’s a beguiling riff on the Nativity story, as a young boy (Victor Ezenfis) becomes determined to uncover the identity of his absent father. His search leads to Mathieu Amalric’s brash publisher, who offers limited appeal when it comes to being a proposed patriarch. As such, Vincent’s attentions gravitate towards the publisher’s brother (Fabrizio Rongione) as a more suitable substitute, only for a funny farce of misplaced paternity to ensue from there.
With the film released in UK cinemas this Friday, ahead of a Christmas Day streaming debut on MUBI UK, we chat with Green about his direction of actors and collaborating with producers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne…
If there’s something strange
In your conflict zone,
Who ya gonna call?
James Badge Dale!