It’s perhaps quite apt, given what has been happening around the world, that Brady Corbet released his directorial debut in 2016. It rides this year’s wave of growing right-wing sentiment. However, whilst we can see the end product of years of political neglect and failure to combat unpalatable (and sometimes justified) opinions, the American film-maker has another focus. The Childhood of a Leader goes back to the beginning. An original story, if you will. A fictional account of the formative years of a fascist dictator.
The son of an Aide to the American Secretary of State and his European wife (Bérénice Bejo), Prescott (Tom Sweet) finds himself living in rural France following the end of World War I. Whilst his father (Liam Cunningham) is pre-occupied working in Paris towards the Treaty of Versailles, Prescott takes his cues from what he sees around him. Learning French from a local girl Ada (Stacy Martin) and observing his parents’ relationships.
The Childhood of a Leader is an extremely ambitious feature debut from Corbet. Thought-provoking and often obtuse, there’s no strong narrative. Instead, he opts for an existential argument of nature versus nurture. Embellished by a stunning soundtrack by Scott Walker, it’s beautifully made. There’s no mistaking that The Childhood of a Leader won’t be for everyone. That said, there’s much to please and entertain those who are prepared to give it a chance.
The Childhood of a Leader is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Soda Pictures on Monday.