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Here is my review from IFFR, please beware of spoilers.

The first thing coming to my mind right now is: MASTERPIECE.

I think I saw a lot of movies, I have been to a lot of premieres and events but this one will be engraved in my memory like it never happened before.

‘The Childhood of a Leader’ opens the doors to an incredible talent, Brady Corbet’s. Can you believe he had the idea of this movie since his seventeens?! Teenagers mostly think about going out, and this incredible man just began writing a movie which is by far the best movie I have seen in my short life. (And I promise you I am not exagerating).

Let’s start with the beginning and let me explain what I felt, even if, let’s be honest, my words won’t give enough credit to what I saw and witnessed during this amazing closing night at IFFR.

Because I try to do the best, I actually read the book ‘L’enfance d’un chef’ by Jean-Paul Sartre which actually inspired Brady Corbet. This is not an adaptation or anything like that, nevertheless by reading it I understood much easily the movie and its theme. But it does not mean you have to read it. Anyway. The movie can be described as dark but I think it is so much more than that. The fact it is settled during WW1 does not mean the questions of society are out of our contemporary world and Brady Corbet himself told IFFR it was a contemporary story by its turns about.

‘The Childhood of a Leader’ is striking, incredible, brilliant and so much more words cannot describe. I was captivated the whole time, not even fully on my chair because the story is so intriguing and well written. It leaves you at the end with a big ‘No freaking way!’ or like ‘Seriously?!’. By seeing the movie you enter a time you heard about, something also you fear everyday but cannot point it out properly because we did not live through it. Nevertheless, you enter this period with such an angst to it, it is intense and scary at the same time without really making you scared, if you know what I mean. And when you expect something to happen it does not. Everything written is surprising, refreshing and the style is really amazing as well. The story really makes it all and knowing Brady Corbet thought of this movie like it is now at only 17 years old made me just love his work more because it proves he is a Genius since forever! He is incredible like that!

So let’s start, as an hommage to Brady Corbet, to the screenwriting/filming. I think a good part of the movie is in French. I actually wanted to ask Brady about that but my time was unfortunatelly limited. Anyway, a good part of the cast is actually French (Bérénice Béjo, Stacy Martin, Yolande Moreau who plays the maid, Jacques Boudet the priest…) and it brings the French language out which is fascinating and really incredible. Because it takes a huge part and some crucial words are there in French. The screenplay is balanced and straight to the point making the directing just so amazing it seems eerie. The way the actors are, the lighting and the way the camera is handled makes you enter directly into the movie itself. It is like we are witnesses to all of that. We cannot really feel like the characters as they are all so different from what we could be or what we have lived nowadays. But we can try to understand what they are feeling and by the way Brady Corbet filmed everything, we feel like watching them with scruttiny like we could actually understand how they all came to the point of no return. The places, the story, everything was set to make the movie so real it is scary in that way. Everything seemed chosen carefully and the decor is an entire part of the movie because it tells a lot about context and characters’ feelings (or so I felt like it). The last scene, which is by far the most incredible end I have ever seen, is so rightly filmed and is just propulsed by the music with such violence and determination that it makes you want to just go back to the start and do it all over again. It blows your mind by its intensity and its way making you as mad as the character.

Talking about characters, let’s talk about the amazing and talented cast. You have to know the characters themselves as they are written are quite peculiar. By that I mean that each one of them has traits we could relate to without feeling like them if that makes sense. Each one of them has something despictable but their own story makes them more likable and seemingly like us. Liam Cunningham and Bérénice Bejo show talent and passion in their roles. They play right and straight to the point. They portray parenthood brilliantly just as it could be expected in such a weird atmosphere. The father is cold, commanding, important and absent. The mother seems cold, without emotions and completely at loss with her own son. Behind her cold attitude we can nevertheless by the beautiful acting of Bérénice Béjà a woman who is wounded by life, not really explained in the movie but it really is not that important. Both parents act a lot in their son’s attitude. They make him without even realising it which is really well played on both parts.
The revelation of this movie is the cutest actor I have ever seen (sorry Rob!). Tom Sweet is an admirable actor. Young but so talented it gave me the chills and he left me stuck in my chair, mouth open like I was mad. This boy can play and he portrays with excellence this young boy becoming evil. It is like he does not own his own body, his gestures, his face, his face’s expression… Everything makes us think he is just a quiet weird little boy but by the acting of Tom, we can see the transformation from the sweet little boy to the devil he will become and it is such an incredible thing to see this angel’s face become more and more horrible. The last scene, which I won’t describe to keep the spoilers at a minimum, is the one making you understand the power Tom Sweet has as an actor. The fury in his voice, his gestures as well as his eyes made me scared and iced my blood. This boy is an actor to be well known very soon!
Honorable mentions as well for Yolande Moreau, French actress, who is just the adorable maid trying to be a mother figure as if to save the little Prescott (Tom Sweet’s name in the movie). Unfortunately, fate decides differently… And for Stacy Martin who plays beautifully the innocent, not so innocent, teacher. Michael Epp (who posted a BTS picture of Rob in costume) plays very nicely too. Actually, all the cast is brilliant and really well directed by Brady Corbet whose mind is one of a Genius and I really hope he will do some other films because he is truly talented and is part of a new generation of directors with brilliant ideas.
Special mention to Mona Fastvold/Lerche. I am not 100% sure but at some point, Prescott and his mom go to Church to apologize to the priest about an incident and we see a woman taking care of her baby, sitting on the ground, if I am correct, it seems like Brady Corbet’s wife and screenwriter of the movie did a little cameo with their baby (if so, I find it wisely done and really cute!).

Dare I say best for last?

Robert Pattinson. Appearing in 4 scènes (so about 10/12 minutes total I think), in all the periods of the movie, he once again surprised me. In the first scene I instantly recognized him and let me tell you, poor Melanie lost an arm as I just reached for it because I was so proud. Anyway. The character of Charles seems so easy at first, it looks like he is there, just there. We are not sure why he is but he blends in with the family, linking him weirdly to the mom… Nevertheless, this role is the second main role for some reason I won’t tell. Rob, as usual, shows us another personnality, another talent he has. He becomes Charles Marker from beginning to end. The accent, the gestures, the way he walks, the way he talks or even the way he looks at the others. I think we don’t really realise how many characters he can really play. This movie, even if he is playing a small role as he likes to say, is once again proving to us fans he is an amazing talented man. Coldness, eyes showing absence and discomfort. We tend to think he is the lover of Prescott’s mom to be honest. Nevertheless it is so much more complexe and it gives the movie such a depth as well as an intensity to the character we cannot understand until the last second. Rob plays beautifully. Never mind he is not in every scene, he just steals the the ones he is in. It is like a magnet. And his presence makes everyone uncomfortable, like he is a mystery and he plays that part so brilliantly it catches your breath and gives it back to you after the credits at the end. Acting in Brady’s movie proves once again that Rob knows where he goes and chooses wisely all his projects. A bonus for us and a wonderful collaboration with his friend.

Another actor who deserves so many congratulations and standing ovation: the orchestra. Scott Walker (who did the score) did an amazing incredible wonderful marvelous job. The music is to the point, loud yes but as is the atmosphere and the subject of the movie. The music brings as many emotions and feelings as the actors can do, which is quite impressive. It brought me chills and shivers all along because of the rightness of what it expressed.
It was the first time I saw a movie with an orchestra live and I must admit I was afraid it would cover the movie. I was SO WRONG. The orchestra as well as the conductor were just fabulous and the music brought such a depth and intensity to the movie. It was marvelous and an incredible experience. It was a masterpiece all around. The music is a character or at least becomes the character displayed on screen while playing which is something really difficult to do and not many musicians succeeded to do so. But here, everything is smooth and to the point, bringing you waves of feelings and making you live with the characters what is happening. For example, Tom Sweet’s character does not talk much, everything he expresses is more with his body language and stare. But the music, it makes you enter the soul of each character, as if you become the character and just feel what they are all feeling if that makes sense. I was caught up in it all.

I cannot say I am a cinema expert, nevertheless, let me tell you this movie deserves to be known and seen all around the world. Everything screams masterpiece and even if it took so long for Brady Corbet to do it, let me tell you it was so Worth it.

‘The Childhood of a Leader’ is a masterpiece, directed and created by a Genius who knew how to choose his actors to create a talented atmosphere and this marvelous movie. In my opinion, it is the best movie I have ever seen. My number one movie. Everything about it shows the Genius of Brady Corbet who proves he is so talented it almost hurt.

So, really, thank you so much Brady Corbet for this wonderful experience I have lived. I really hope this movie will be released soon so everyone can watch what an amazing and talented director you are. Your baby is a masterpiece. Truly.
And Rob, well, you made me so proud once again. Thank you for showing me another face of your talent.

It was my review for ‘The Childhood of a Leader’. Please, if you have the opportunity go see this movie when it comes out.

Laura


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Read a list of reviews collected for “Queen of the Desert”!

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#LIFE talk from 12:00

Transcript about Robert Pattinson

ANTON CORBIJN: Dennis Stock’s role was more freedom.
It is actually funny how people hearing Robert Pattinson & James Dean think he would be James Dean but no
But actually this his the story of the photographer so Rob has the lead role

PICTURE HOUSE: Rob has quite a technical job in the film playing Dennis Stock and there are some dark room scenes… Is that something that sort of you took him Under your wings, little bit there…
ANTON CORBIJN: Yeah, I mean, people don’t really have experience in dark rooms. And do not realise what a dark room is. People would be like ‘oh there is a red light and Robert Pattinson’ so thought it was a vampire film. Oh my god how can you think that?! But Rob did got a camera months before we started shooting for him to get familiar with that. He did shoot this with it, but we’ve never seen anything. I think he put the same film back in again everytime. It probably was dead. It was not Worth developping.
But I really love Rob and he is a really fine actor, really different than Dane, he is really intuitive, he approaches the subject differently but the result is good.
Rob, I always feel like he is taking interesting roles, interesting for him and not necessarily the paycheck he makes in the end. He kind of wants to prove himself as an actor even if it is only to himself and the photographer in the movie wants that as well, so I kinda like that I took Rob for the role

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REVIEW:

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Directed by Anton Corbijn

Starring
Robert Pattinson
Peter Lucas
Lauren Gallagher

Released
25 September, 2015

Life is the story of two men pursuing their individual artistic callings against the grain of industry norms. Both Dennis Stock and James Dean died as glittering names in photojournalism and acting. But in 1955, when this film is set, neither was established.

“What do you see in him?” asks Dennis’ agent (Joel Edgerton). This drama takes place during the run-up to the premiere of East of Eden, the film that would make Dean a major-league movie star. Warner Brothers are hemming over casting him in Rebel Without a Cause, fearing that his quirks and honesty make him unsuitable for the studio’s star template treatment.

“It’s an awkwardness, it’s something pure,” is what Dennis (Robert Pattinson) sees in Jimmy (Dane DeHaan). He is dying to get away from the red-carpet beat. In Dean, is the potential material for promotion to his desired field of serious, cultural photography. So begins the slippery business of pinning down the evasive but disarming boy from Marion, Indiana. Languid, conga-playing farmboy Jimmy, wants a friend, not a photographer. He’ll invite Dennis out for jazz and Benzedrine, dismissing the matter of professional engagements.

Corbijn uses their motivations – as well as their clashes – to convey the dance that takes place in media-talent relationships. Sometimes the film jitterbugs into exploitation, at others it waltzes into harmony. Dennis has a growing impatience to go with his approaching deadline. Jimmy is annoying, intentionally and unintentionally. DeHaan ratchets up Dean’s rhythmic speech, evoking a self-conscious performance-poet tasked with a Ginsberg reading. His cherubic face is worlds away from the big handsome mug of history. Studied mannerisms morph beautifully into sincerity but the affectations jar.

Dennis is his opposite. He is curt and minimal, essaying a very controlled, clock-watching professional. Pattinson’s performance is as crisp as the white shirt and black suits his character always wears, camouflage for problems that add depth to the film as they settle into shape.

In his 2007 debut, Control, Corbijn plumbed his roots as a photographer to create a decadent monochrome. In Life, composed frames show a tactile recreation of ’50s America. Vintage motors, hand-painted shop signs and theatres proudly announcing ‘CINEMASCOPE’ are evocative but not ostentatiously so. The air carries a seasonal coldness that lends images a frosty elegance. Many scenes feature men barking into old ebony phone receivers.

The social backdrop is just as carefully wrought. In another film, Ben Kingsley’s fuming studio head, Jack Warner, would be The Other Man to Jimmy Dean and the tussle would be of maverick versus the studio, Saving Mr Banks flavour. Instead, Kingsley ball-busts just enough to give Jimmyʼs non-conformity gravitas, but the viewfinder is trained on the man behind the camera, Dennis Stock. As Life proceeds, Pattinson steps up, allowing more of his character’s insides to come out. The pace picks up and by the third act it’s a compelling dramatisation of an artistically and morally fascinating alliance.

Anticipation.

Dare we hope for a good life?

3

Enjoyment.

Life is clever and unusual.

4

In Retrospect.

Fun while it lasts.

3

Words by
Sophie Monks Kaufman

Cover art by Lloyd Stratton