The Son of Joseph
Feb 17 - Feb 19
(Eugène Green, France, 2016, 115 min)
A nativity story reboot that gently skewers French cultural pretensions, The Son of Joseph follows a young man who lives with his mother and has never known his father, and heads off to look for him. In Paris, he meets a cynical and Machiavellian man who works as a literary publisher, but eventually finds warmth from a benevolent stranger.
The American-born expatriate filmmaker Eugène Green exists in his own special artistic orbit. All Green’s films share a formal rigor and an increasingly refined modulation between the playfully comic, the urgently human, and the transcendent, and they are each as exquisitely balanced as the baroque music and architecture that he cherishes. His latest film explores the relationship between cynicism and purity in the modern world.
Here’s an excerpt from an excellent AV Club interview, touching on the parental themes in his work: “That’s one of the themes in The Son of Joseph, the idea that the father is not necessarily the biological father—the father is the one who transmits love to someone that is young. And it goes in both directions. Mature people transmit to young people a certain wisdom that comes from maturity, but young people are close to a more intuitive wisdom, and they can give that back to older people who have lost it to their maturation.”
"There are lots of ways for movies to operate, but too many follow the same blueprint of realistic behavior and unobtrusive, invisible style. The Son of Joseph is a wonderful answer to that same-old same-old, a blessedly welcome upending of expectations." -- Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly
“Shot through with an intensely pleasurable intellectual playfulness, this is the American-born French director’s most accomplished and surprising film to date, boasting his trademark thoughtfulness and precision, yet also being almost puppyishly easy to love.” — Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
“In Green’s world, every moment is an unsolvable mystery that requires debate. His exuberant visuals and austere rhythms suggest Wes Anderson by way of Robert Bresson, although in reality, the combination belongs to Green alone.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“Green’s pursuit of purity is also a pursuit of symmetry, and like most of his films, The Son of Joseph blurs the line between running gags and symbolic motifs, whimsical parodies and allegories.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The AV Club