At The Childhood of A Leader Party at the Venice Film Festival, Brady Corbet, Bérénice Bejo & Stacy Martin spoke about working on the movie.
In combination with British DoP Lol Crawley’s atmospheric 35mm photography and Corbet’s assured direction of an excellent cast, it makes for an edgy, poetic mix with the dramatic potency of a good nightmare.
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The Childhood of a Leader is a dark, enigmatic piece of work that hovers between visionary greatness and petty domestic triviality. Corbet’s inaugural stint behind the camera marks a stunning debut and the finest film at Venice thus far.
Corbet never turns the film into a game of ‘connect the dots until future leader appears.’ It’s more akin to a sensorial overload, blurring the lines of cause and effect, and as such it is gleefully effective. There are shades of Haneke and Von Trier (Corbet worked with both as an actor) in its willingness to antagonize the viewer, as well as a fondness for the formalism of times past.
What could very easily be received as an irritating, pretentious feature debut is actually a display of controlled madness full of astute touches, like the use of Robert Pattinson’s persona in the few scenes he’s in.
Though Corbet regularly cites eastern European cinema in his interests, his debut has much more of traditional European feel; indeed it may seem like unfeasibly high praise but there are echoes of the masters (Luchino Visconti, notably) in Lol Crawley’s superb 35mm cinematography.
A brilliant framing device involving a stunning orchestral score by, of all people, Scott Walker gives the film a nerve-wracking urgency. The ending is a what-the-hell talking point for sure, but there are ideas and provocations here that will ensure Corbet’s film lives a long if not especially commercial life.