French filmmaker Eugene Green's comic riff on the nativity story is a beguiling experience
A riff on the Biblical nativity, Eugene Green’s The Son of Joseph follows Vincent (Ezenfis), a young boy determined to uncover the identity of his absent father. His investigation leads to Oscar (Amalric), an obnoxious publisher who’s clearly averse to shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood. Realising this, Vincent instead gravitates towards Oscar’s brother, Joseph (Rongione), a far more suitable father figure. What ensues is a comic tale of misplaced paternity boasting one of cinema’s funniest sex scenes and a hilarious chase sequence completely devoid of suspense; after all, you can’t have a nativity story without a donkey!
Green’s trademark adhesion to the alienating conventions of Baroque theatre (principally involving static compositions where characters look directly into the camera and recite their lines with flawless diction) is embellished with an endearing playfulness that culminates in a strange and beguiling experience. Layering the mythic and the prosaic with the intimate and the broad, The Son of Joseph is a quiet masterpiece from one of cinema’s most distinctive voices.
Released by MUBI