The Son of Joseph (2016) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
4 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
Don't let the modest rating keep you away. This is a great movie!
Red-12511 June 2017
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.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Twelfth Night
dbdumonteil8 October 2017
The story of the illegitimate child in search of his father has been told and told and told.It has spawned more melodramas than you'll ever see.

Eugene Green has completely renewed this hackneyed subject;his movie looks like no other one,and on the current feel-good French scene ,it's like a bolt from the blue.The viewer may feel bewildered,lost ,searching something vaguely similar to cling to.

Robert Bresson is the first name that comes to mind :the way the actors deliver their lines ,in a neuter almost robotic voice,refusing any dramatization,may put off some people.But if you carry it on,the movie grows on you and culminates in one of the most moving finale I know:Victor Ezenfis 's last shot reflects happiness,nay bliss.

The movie is divided in five chapters ,three inspired by the Old Testament , the others by the Gospels.It's not unwarranted .

Genesis and Exodus are cruel books: Oscar,the wealthy editor , is some kind of Abraham who did not hear God's voice (see Joseph's explanation);in the second part ,he is an equivalent of King Herod. Biblicals references abound.Oscar's and Joseph's father treated his children like Isaac in Genesis ,who favored Jacob and denied Esau's birthright .

The New Testament,on the other hand , is a providential merciful holy scripture ;in Vincent's bedroom,there's Caravaggio's painting which represents Abraham 's sacrifice.When he meets Joseph (the carpenter),both go to a museum and stop in front of Georges De La Tour's painting : a stark contrast to the violence (look at the terrified child's face) of the Italian painting.Although there's a cross on it, Jesus's and Joseph's faces reflect perfect heavenly bliss.

The "golden calf" represents the material world , that of Oscar and his "Bourgeois Bohèmes" ,who drink champagne ,exchanging would be "intellectual" lines -the "critic" who's just talked to late writer Nathalie Sarraute ,it takes the biscuit- , a self-centered selfish milieu.Oscar 's cynicism knows no bounds : not only he cheats on his wife almost in front of her ,but he does not know how many children he fathered!

Natacha Régnier's Mary is the only light in the first chapter : she wants to bring relief ,so she became a nurse .Vincent resents the fact that she has never revealed his father's name : she knows it's beyond her ,that old God of the Old Testament.It takes Joseph to build a true family ,and even if they escape from the powers- that-be on a donkey ,they are stronger than Herod and his cops/soldiers .

Eugene Green achieves the incredible feat of getting a little humor in a rather dry work: both scenes of the guy who sells sperm on internet and needs an associate are a good comic relief in that context ;so are the blue jokes Vincent cracks with his adoptive father.Sometimes,lines which are not funny become so ,by the way they are delivered :"can't you see I'm working?".

That there's only one (non French) comment on such a remarkable movie is amazing .This movie is so rich it deserves hundreds of reviews.Is it a Christian movie,by the way?
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Just how seriously are we meant to take this?
MOscarbradley31 March 2018
The poster shows a woman sitting on a donkey being lead by a man and, in this instance, a boy and with a title like "The Son of Joseph" and characters called Marie and Joseph you might be forgiven for thinking Eugene Green's film is a modern take on the Christ story, (the chapter headings also allude to the Bible). However, the link is a tenuous one at best as young Vincent goes in search of his biological father. With all the characters speaking as if to the beat of a metronome and behaving a little like robots it often feels like a comedy minus the jokes, a parody of French art-house cinema which it may well be since its director is actually American though long domicile in France. Of course, you could take it seriously as some sort of religious allegory, (the clues aren't just all there but very much in your face), ot just enjoy it as some kind of piss-take or just abandon it altogether since, to be honest, it's not all that lively. The choice, as they say, is yours.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
In search of truth, a coming-of-age tale.
Reno-Rangan24 February 2018
I'm really bad at guessing things. When I first saw the film poster and read the title, I thought it could be about immigration. No, it isn't. This is a comedy, a black comedy, involving a teenager obsessed to find his biological father. So his adventure is where it all takes him was what comically portrayed.

There's nothing special about the story. Not in the initiation. So once the second half commence, that's where the film becomes unpredictable. Because all the developments were done in the earlier and what followed was simply an unexpected consequence.

Vincent, a teenager suddenly interested to know who is his birth father. He has not properly got answered by his mom for that question. So his quest begins, all in a right direction, but he did not expect it to turn out to be a disappointment. What follows after that was an interesting event ended with a simple twist.

First of all it is not your normal comedy flick. The storyline might look familiar, but presented on the screen artistically. I laughed at the cast's expressions than the comedy scenes/events. Especially in those shots where they have to see straight into the camera. Somewhat fun to watch, but overall just above average film.

-xX] Work is the enemy of pleasure. [Xx-

As I've said, they knew how to begin, even the conclusion was well figured out, but how to reach there was where they have got lost a little bit. Moreover, it all was done quite unexpected adventurously. That's what I saw in the poster and misunderstood prior of watching it.

As an animal lover, I hated that donkey part. The film looked decent, until that. They should have avoided it. But anyway, I'm glad I saw it. The cast was good and shot in some lovely outdoor places. At least I came to know this stylish filmmaker. Now I should keep an eye on him.

There are many good French comedies, so this is not one of them, a must see, yet I feel why not once. Because it is being so simple. Except the runtime was close to the two hours. They say it is a drama, but there's a more fun side of it than considering it a serious drama.

Finally, who knows, it could work better for you than me. But choose it carefully. Because this is not a famous French film of the year. Not many people know its existence. Above that, it might not be a great film, but surely not the worst to ignore without researching basic info before deciding what to do.

6.5/10
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed