Parisian 15-year-old Vincent is aggrieved by his single mum’s insistence he has no father, and resorts to subterfuge and cunning as he investigates his paternity. Other filmmakers might turn that plot summary into a naturalistic tale of teenage angst, but not director Eugène Green.
Instead, the arthouse fave channels his historical and theological obsessions into a modern comedy of manners conveyed in the artificially declamatory style of French classical drama. Vincent (Victor Ezenfis) possesses all the regulation Apple products, but he’s motivated by Caravaggio’s painting ‘The Sacrifice of Isaac’, believes in the innate goodness of certain people and eventually lives out his own version of the Nativity story.
Green certainly has a unique worldview and this elegantly composed film has a wry, left-field charm, sustained by performances both sincere (saintly mother Natacha Régnier) and witty (literary louse Mathieu Amalric). Still, the tone careens from high seriousness to easy parody in a way that makes the film slightly imprecise and slippery. Still, nothing else quite like it out there, that’s for sure.