Saturday, 15 October 2016

LFF 2016 REVIEW - THE SON OF JOSEPH (EUGENE GREEN)


The permanence of the essential virtues of art courses through the films of Eugene Green, even as he establishes his reputation as a true modernist. The contradiction is not so, however, since his preference for idiosyncratic innovation chimes rather harmoniously with the achievements of the artistic masters he so reveres, not least in its own essential virtue, put to a new test in the comical The Son of Joseph. Green emphasizes the playfulness of his stylistic schemes, inviting self-parody into his self-aware mise-en-scene. It's a charming development for an auteur too often dismissed as overly serious, as Green ensures that the apparent contrivances that this mirthful approach exposes are not merely employed to serve this humour but to engender it. Thus, The Son of Joseph defines its character, a new work of art that's as modern as it is classical. A master filmmaker himself with a deep respect for the full spectrum of artistic creation, Green stages several enrapturing sequences focusing upon the characters' response to painting, or architecture, or musical performance; spectators within the screen and before it - these are wondrous scenes. In formulating a work of comparative spiritual significance, however, The Son of Joseph's cute provocations may be appealing, but they're paper-thin - as much as Green acknowledges each cliche upon encountering it, his film is highly reliant on them, and its thematic core is weak, even from an objective viewpoint. And yet what better advertisement for this director's singular brilliance? A basically bad story, yet a rather terrific movie! Artistic virtue indeed!