The French movie Le fils de Joseph (2016) was shown in the U.S. with the translated title The Son of Joseph. The film was written and directed by Eugène Green. (Don't let the accent in Eugène fool you. Green is from the U.S., but he lives in France and apparently is very, very French.) Victor Ezenfis is brilliant as Vincent, a young man in his teens who has been raised by a single mother. As the movie begins, he learns the name of his father, and the plot of the film follows from that discovery. Natacha Régnier plays Marie, Vincent's mother. She is a caring nurse who has devoted her life to raising Victor. Régnier is impossibly beautiful, but she isn't elegant and haughty. Instead, she looks as if she could be the person who lives next door. (OK--next door if you live in the 2nd arrondissement.) Fabrizio Rongione plays Joseph, a man who develops an unlikely friendship with Vincent. If you have a woman named Marie, and a man named Joseph, you know that Jesus is going to fit into the plot in some fashion. That's true, in a way, but director Green doesn't push it too far. This is an absolutely fascinating film, with great acting by the lead actors as well as by the supporting characters. (Special notice to Gargantua, who plays a captured rat that some boys are torturing. The credits at the end of the film point out that Gargantua is a professional actor, who was not injured in any way during filming.) We saw this movie at the outstanding Dryden Theatre in Rochester's George Eastman Museum. It was part of a two-movie miniseries of the films of Eugène Green. (The other movie was Sapienza, which I also reviewed for IMDb.) Unlike Sapienza, alienation is not as obvious in The Son of Joseph. Even so, I compared Green with Antonioni in my review of Sapienza. Apparently, Green has made the same comparison. In The Son of Joseph the characters go to a movie, and what they see is a revival of Antonioni's Red Desert (1964). This film will work well on the small screen. If you can't see it in a theater, see it at home. It will be worth the effort.
The Son of Joseph
The Son of Joseph
A discontented Parisian teenager in search of a father with (Mathieu Amalric) and (Fabrizio Rongione) as his, respectively, callous and gentle alternative paternal options, and (Natacha Régnier) as his single mother.
December 12, 2020