Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
I have come to really appreciate Bruno Dumont’s rehabilitated image from curmudgeon fatalist to curmudgeon absurdist, with Li'l Quinquin and Slack Bay surpassing my wildest expectations as to what the director is capable of. So I was awaiting Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Dumont’s first quote unquote musical, with great anticipation. Yet such excitement dissipated with each achingly banal minute of Jeannette, as Dumont uncomfortably gives away responsibility of his film to newcomer Lise Leplat Prudhomme. Some child actors emerge as shockingly confident and take the reigns of their projects, whereas others flounder. Prudhomme’s performance cannot be misclassified, as her inelegant vocals and clumsy choreography may seem beguiling, but the experiment proves unsustainable, as Jeannette crumbles within minutes of her introduction. What follows is a series of novelties, from head-banging nuns to dabbing 15th century warlords, all of which amount to a cute diversion but ultimately service a thinly composed farce. Dumont’s films tend to excite me for how out-of-the-box and peculiar they become throughout their runtime – Jeannette hits the same off-key for its duration and inspires to do little more than provoke a chuckle.