Newcomer Tom Sweet (who was apparently found on a football pitch) stars as Prescott, a sullen boy living with his parents in rural France. But this is no bucolic idyll; this is post-WWI Versailles where a continent is trying desperately to make peace with itself. Prescott’s father is part of those negotiations, a member of Woodrow Wilson’s delegation, consumed by his own schemes, and dangerously ill-equipped to address his son’s growing resentment.
It’s a perfectly serviceable allegory, but the film’s inquest into twentieth century history and the infancy of fascism is not its main draw. That’s surely its atmosphere: a palette so cold as to be sub-zero and costume design which stretches plausibility to its most gothic extremes. Then there’s Scott Walker’s score, a foghorn complement to the faded splendour of the film’s sets.
Credit also to the actors. Prescott is a demanding role for any actor, let alone for one new to the business, but Sweet plays the lead’s escalating viciousness to perfection. Bérénice Bejo is equally impressive as the boy’s mother, putting in an icily distant performance.
This is an unusual first film. Juvenilia it is not. It is something altogether fuller and more certain of itself; nearly two hours of allegorical drama.
|What||The Childhood of a Leader film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
12 Aug 16 – 14 Oct 16, Event times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to visit the film's IMDB page|