Brady Corbet’s unnerving debut, Childhood of a Leader, is a delectable view into the young minds that introduce drastic social and political change. Set in France in a pre-fascist era, the movie portrays similar traits of manipulation to those found in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk about Kevin and Richard Donner’s classic supernatural horror, The Omen, whilst of course referencing Jean Paul Sartre’s existentialist title of the same name.
The fear that envelops the film undeniably parallels the unsteady state of affairs found internationally. Even though it dates back to post- World War I, and as such has undercurrents of the coming World War II, the protagonist in question is, interestingly, American. Childhood of a Leader provides intriguing dialogues between Europe and America as well as past and present politics.
Having won two awards at the Venice International Film Festival, Corbet poignantly charts the development of authoritarian values, asking unsettling questions about nature versus nurture and the capability of humanity.
1. Still from Brady Corbet’s Childhood of a Leader. Courtesy of Soda Pictures.