Eugene Green's The Son of Joseph is a rich, endlessly layered piece of film-making which uses christian mythology to tell an astute tale of morality, paternity, kindness, and hope. More playful than most of Green's previous work, The Son of Joseph is centered around Vincent, a young, discontent Parisian teenager, who feels nothing but detachment from the modern world. Intent on finding his father, despite his mother's best attempts to hide his identity from her son, Vincent soon learns that his father is Oscar Pormenor, an egotistic and cynical Parisian publisher, a man whose vile arrogance and selfishness only push Vincent further into the abyss of vexation. His rage over his father's actions nearly send Vincent himself down a path of violence and self-destruction, with Vincent's uncle, and Oscar's much more gentle, good-hearted brother, Joseph, providing an alternative path for Vincent, one where kindness, optimism, and introspection provide hope for a young boy who needs it. A profound story of morality told in an utterly creative and resonant way, Eugene Green's The Son of Joseph is soul-affirming in its ability to exhibit the importance of kindness and love in a world in which we as individuals seem to be growing farther and farther detached from one and other. The importance of family and paternity, specifically the guidance which is needed to shape young minds, is captured in vivid detail throughout Green's latest masterwork, with Joseph providing some semblance of structure to young Vincent, while still allowing him to find himself and his own personal liberty. Steeped in religious symbolism, The Son of Joseph recognizes how both family and religion both serve similar purposes in regards to hope and optimism, with Vincent's journey to discover himself being aided by the guidance of Joseph, a man who encourages Vincent to be himself, bestowing a sense of faith and optimism in the young boy which he so desperately needs. Green's film is so rich and layered that I couldn't even pretend to touch on all the various themes and ideas which it navigates, but simply put, this film is able to capture what it means to be alive, a story drenched in hope, which captures the exuberance and possibility that awaits all individuals who wish to see life itself as a beautiful gift. Played by Matheiu Amalric, Vincent's father-in-blood is a character who lives completely for himself, a man who serves his primal desires of power and control, reaching it through his financial successes as a publisher. This man is portrayed as an outright monster for much of the film, but in the final moments this rich arrogant man is reduced to rubble, the realization that he himself is nothing to his kinder, more hopeful brother, who has replaced him and found personal enlightenment through the paternal relationship he shares with Vincent. A playful, optimistic triage of family, faith, and morality, Eugene Green's The Son of Joseph is just the latest reminder that Green is one of the most impressive filmmakers working today, a rich, endlessly layered, soul-affirming piece of art that his hopeful and optimistic about the human condition, understanding that empathy and morality are the key to a life of happiness, fulfillment, and enlightenment.
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