DVD Movie Review: The Childhood of a Leader (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Georgina Aindow 31.01.2017

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The Childhood of a Leader (UK Rating: 12)

Directed by Brady Corbert, The Childhood of a Leader is  set during the climax of World War One - an American family settles in France due to the father's career, ensuring peace is made with the warring nations. The impact of dealing with the war not only has a haunting effect on the couple, but even more so with their son. A unique directional debut, with clever camerawork, although it tends to lack cohesion, the film's structure centres round Prescott's tantrums. Each scene is beautifully shot, but the narrative leaves much to be desired. For all its political themes, the suspense and surprises are few. Scott Walker's score is nonetheless unconventional and haunting, drawing emphasis on the evil that is present in the world. Further comparisons can be drawn to Oliver!, with its prominent childhood theme, and The Duke of Burgundy, through the distinctive style of execution. The film itself, however, is lacking in entertainment value, resulting in a painful slow burner to chew your teeth through.

The film features several talented actors. Tom Sweet's portrayal of the child is particularly good, while Liam Cunningham and Bérénice Bejo take on the role of his parents to a satisfactory extent. An emotionally charged delivery from the youngster contrasts with the remaining dull performances throughout. Robert Pattinson features in a brief, but critical, part in the supporting cast, although his performance is equally as disengaging and bland.

Rated 5 out of 10


Bleak and sinister, The Childhood of a Leader is a film that is enthralling in parts, but leaves you feeling moderately underwhelmed by the time it comes to an end. With a lack of narrative development, and the compulsion to sensationalise, what could have been a fascinating film is hindered profusely by a flawed premise.

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