In “The Childhood of a Leader,” writer/director Brady Corbet (co-written with Mona Fastvold) has created a unique and powerful film that is stripped to bare bones but ripples with undercurrents. The superficial story is that of a troubled child, his parents and those close to them. Some have used the words “disturbed” or even “psychopathic” to describe the son (played to the hilt by 9-year-old Tom Sweet). The son has no name nor even a well-defined gender. He is doomed, or gifted, depending on perspective, to know and to act out the events and political climate during the signing the treaty of Versailles.
To his parents, the son is intractable. But this is not a film about child-parent relations. It is more akin to a story of possession, except the child is seeing truth and the adults are possessed. (CONTINUED)