Clarisse wakes at dawn, careful not to stir her sleeping husband. She packs a few belongings and takes one last look at her sleeping children; then, deciding against leaving a note, she departs her house. The implication is that she’s abandoning her family, with a surprising giddiness in the car-driving sequences that soon follow. How could someone do this to their loved ones, and with such gleeful abandon? And why might they?
Cutting back and forth between Clarisse (Vicky Krieps)’s new bearings and her family adjusting to the abandonment, Mathieu Amalric’s latest feature as writer-director – based on Claudine Galea’s play Je reviens de loin – seems like it might be one of those disorienting character studies that withholds any semblance of answers until the climax. Instead, Amalric resolves the initial mystery early. It’s near impossible to meaningfully elaborate on what the film is doing without delving into the reveal that comes roughly a third in, so consider this your first-act spoiler warning…
Full review for Sight and Sound
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…
Full interview for VODzilla.co