When Jeannette world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2017, Bruno Dumont
’s acolytes were left grappling with a taxonomical head-scratcher. Lo and behold, a director whose filmography had by and large consisted of austere and somber ruminations on life, death, and the divine, homing in on a historical figure that promised more of the same, and heralded a rebranding of sorts. For a martyr who’d been sanctified on the silver screen as far back as Carl Theodor Dreyer
’s 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc
, Jeannette looked like nothing that came before it. A musical rendition of the Maid of Orleans’ childhood and early teenage years, it framed the heroine’s spiritual awakening through the least likely rubric imaginable: heavy metal music. It was reckless, bonkers, and delightfully original.
Where Jeannette had effectively represented a stylistic and tonal departure from old Dumont, Joan of Arc is a detour to familiar,