November 14th, 2015 / 2 Comments


With the movie being released at several film festivals, I thought I would roundup the reviews so far.  The review extracts will focus on Rob’s performance, but if he isn’t mentioned, then I will post extracts on the movie as a whole. You can check out the initial reviews we posted from Venice here, I won’t repeat them in this post, but I will add any from Venice that I didn’t include. Please note that some reviews may contain spoilers.  This post will be updated as the movie is released around the world.



Cinedivergente (Spain) *SEFF15

“…  on the one hand, it gives the genre a dignity and firmness that few dare to give (Rob Zombie and maybe a little more) and another ripping hard historical film conventions and reconstructions of past key fiction. And today we need someone from time to time we may sift and stands up a bit. To me he has moved me the whole tree.”

Accreds (France)

“Two things are very clear by cons: Bérénice Bejo must stop playing English maternal roles as the Phantom of The Search will not be exorcised, and Robert Pattinson must work in France; there is even better than elsewhere.”

Cine Europa (EU) *Venice

“… a German played by Robert Pattinson with the questionable brilliance he’s known for (to pass his accent off as European …”

Film Comment (New York) *Venice

The Childhood of a Leader brings to mind André Delvaux’s melancholic 1971 film Rendez-vous à Bray, but it’s smarter and has a furious, savage temperament.”

Bright Lights Film Journal (US) *Venice

“Thus it was a shock to come across The Childhood of a Leader: one of the few works in Horizons that really did announce the arrival of a new voice. … this film is the debut of 27-year-old American director Brady Corbet. It is as spectacular and precisely orchestrated as its thunderous soundtrack: an investigation of power and the psychological complexes that underlie oppression and megalomania.”

Cinematographo (Italy) *Venice

“In a great cast Robert Pattinson with a cameo of just ten minutes it gives meaning to the whole movie …”

Otros Cines Europa (Spain) *SEFF15

“A reading that shows the ambition of young Corbet, who despite his occasional simplistic script (written with Mona Fastvold) gets printed to your proposal a notorious film subject and complexity.”

El Correo (Spain) *SEFF15

“This certainly terrifying film, with a childhood marked by sexual identity disorders and strict and wrong education, plays with codes and symbols, some very recognizable, for without giving up a classic formal finish, achieving disturb and even disturbing, largely thanks to moderate and nuanced young Tom Sweet interpretive work and splendid, and unleashed violent soundtrack of mythical and septuagenarian jazz and pop singer Scott Walker, the best music heard in a long time in a movie screen.”

Revista Tarantula (Spain) *SEFF15

“To this we must add the excellent performances of a great Bérénice Bejo, who unveiled a dramatic record in the role of the mother of the future leader, and always remarkable Liam Cunningham , as the parent of the child. Even Robert Pattinson credible as a family friend.”

Popcorn Times (Spain) *SEFF15

“… we already have one of the movies that has raised expectations in the Festival: The Childhood of a Leader.  … The cast is fantastic …”

Cine Enserio (Spain) *SEFF15

“Because it is a start almost operatic stage and when it becomes more unhinged (cinematically) where I see the greatest virtues of this film.”  4.5 stars

La Cabecita (Spain) *SEFF15

“In conclusion, The Childhood of a Leader is, despite its drawbacks, a recommendable film to offer an original and different approach as a hackneyed theme Nazism through an X-ray of the historical context and the characters that he gives a lot to think. And that is always appreciated.”

Magazine HD (Portugal) *LEFFEST

“The ultimate experience is repetitive and without major complexities in their psychology, or clever subtlety. The Childhood of a Leader,however, it turns out, not only as a difficult experience for your audience, but also one of the most interesting and essential films the year as a result of his rare ambition, its formal successes and even its greatest failures.”

No Es Cine Todo Lo Que Reluce (Spain) *SEFF15

“As for the more mature male cast, there is the presence or Liam Cunningham  or  Robert Pattinson , mere extras to a story in which they are placed in a few moments in the presence of them on the screen, but becomes relative If the latter, with a very mysterious role until the very end of the tape.”

Los Lunes Seriesfilos (Spain) *SEFF15

“The British actor Robert Pattinson, in a year redemption, has long been involved in projects that allow more moviegoers exploit and publicize his talent as an actor, leaving almost expressionless with this vampire which was unveiled to the public in the Twilight saga beyond 2008. … In ” The Childhood of a Leader “shows that little is left of the young man who made himself known on the big screen as Cedric Diggory in one of the films of the blockbuster saga of Harry Potter or that vampire who gave recognition Mostar public a more mature Pattinson.”

Cultural Resuena (Spain) *SEFF15

“In each issue, the SEFF gives us two or three (at most) true masterpieces. This year I have been lucky enough to run into one of them. … To achieve the ambitious project of making a costume drama rooted in a psychological portrait of family extreme repression, Corbet record the best possible artists: the genius Scott Walker makes the soundtrack (another masterpiece in itself) unexpected, subtle, shrill , conemporánea, which gives texture and meaning beyond the image. …  Each segment adds significance for a huge all. Do not miss [The Childhood of a Leader].

Magazine HD (Portugal) *LEFFest

The Childhood of a Leader, one of the films in competition at LEFFEST’15, is an aggressive cinematic experience and proves that the rookie filmmaker, Brady Corbet, not afraid of alienating its audience, or even attacking with sensory violence.”

El Palomitron (Spain) *SEFF15

“The debut of Brady Corbet could not have been better in this regard. The actor shows great virtuosity behind the scenes with a start claustrophobic scene and a rapid end.”

Cineralia (Spain) *SEFF15

” The character of Robert Pattinson in the first act, pronounces some words which concerns the entire film, and is the ease of finding the bad, but the difficulty of owning and maintaining good … The best: The soundtrack, the main plot and the chaotic flat finish.”

No Solo Geeks (Spain) *SEFF15

” The presence of so lauded by adolescents, Robert Pattinson is reduced to the purely anecdotal, but it is understandable that the use flip can raise his name on the sign. … The childhood of a leader is a pleasant well planned and carried out by Corbet … An exact rhythm as a clock that keeps the intrigue minute to minute breaks in a tension-filled final sequence with little movement. An outstanding year even without considering the difficulty of adapting to Sartre in the first over young British filmmaker.

Cinematropolis (Portugal)

With the exception of the short appearance of Robert Pattison, who unfortunately clashes with the rest of the cast, the interpretations are all beyond reproach.”

Filmin (Spain) *SEFF15

“There are many virtues that can be attributed to the surprising “The Childhood of a Leader,” both from its strong formal mechanism as from its conceptual basis intriguing and complex argument structure”

Fotogramas (Spain) *SEFF15

“The voracity of Brady Corbet, who wanted to see everything and be everywhere, as a learning experience for his directorial debut, vampirizes maturity desire Pattinson, here in ‘The Childhood of the Leader’ has a seemingly tangential role, but also key and double.”

BLT (Sweden)

“Poetic and challenging one can justifiably also call the American Brady Corbets wayward historical drama “The Childhood of a Leader”. At the time of the peace negotiations after World War a young boy growing up and shaped into a dictator. Exactly where and who he’s supposed to be is unclear, but it is of little importance in this powerful image adventure with deafening music of Scott Walker.”

Kulturtidskrifter (Sweden)

“… The dark, harsh and even offensive strings pushes us into the dark, fairy-tale world and succeed together with matchless steadicam-transitions (amazing 35mm photo!) And bizarre excursions into it nicely mangled house architectural details create a nervy uncertainty which look towards the carnivalesque horror land James Wan stepped forward. Some twists and scenes familiar from elsewhere, but there is an energy and a reckless confidence that is Corbets own. A history lesson for future feature film debutants can learn something from.”

Gotenburg Festival Blog (Sweden)

The Childhood Of A Leader with his avant-garde photography, … powerful soundtrack (voiced by Scott Walker) this year’s so far strongest movie experience.”

Spark Magazine *contains spoilers*

The Childhood of a Leader is a film that will polarise the audience. Some might say that it’s pretentious, which is not unheard of in a case of a first-time director, but I think it’s a brave and intriguing beginning of a young filmmaker’s career.”

Requiem for a Movie (Canada)

This is an amazing first movie just completed the actor Brady Corbet with The Childhood of a Leader . … The introduction and conclusion to the tunes of the great soundtrack of Scott Walker literally freeze the blood.”  (Note: Film of the Day)

Cinefilic (Canada)

“This mastery of staging subjugates from a neophyte and allows  Brady Corbet who remind would need the awesome power of evocation of the image when it is fashioned with such precision and inhabited by actors as impeccably directed.  … It may indeed with The Chi;dhood of a Leader , we are witnessing the birth of a great filmmaker.” 3.5 stars

Positive Magazine (Venice)

“Robert Pattinson’s cameo doesn’t hit a wrong note, in a double role that, in the finale, creates one of the most interesting moments of the movie”

AnOther Magazine “Ten Exceptional Under-the-Radar Arthouse Films”

“Robert Pattinson pops up as a politico, but the most revelatory thing is Scott Walker’s ominous and inspired, thundering score.”

Bantmag (Turkey)

“[Corbet] giving audiences and unforgettable 116-minutes”.

FilmLoverss (Turkey)

“Corbet’s first film (we might even say a masterpiece)”

Cinepolitica FF (Romania)

“A sharp topic – the birth of Fascism in Europe – this time generates a film that is anything but classic. Oozing creative courage, the American director Brady Corbet weaves in a unique manner, on the background of the Peace Treaty of Versailles, a story that aims to be a true psychoanalysis of the main character, a little boy tormented by the demons of those times, which will turn him into a future dictator. The film stirs many controversies by its unique approach, and the viewer needs courage.”

SinemaTurk (Turkey)

Bérénice Bejo, Liam Cunningham and Robert Pattinson have a brilliant cast that also included. In a dark atmosphere, a character will make decisions that will affect the future of millions of viewers moment.”

Kommunal Arbetaren (Sweden)

A riveting debut but also frustrating in many ways.”

DN Culture (Sweden)

“A creepy good movie that contains biographical facts about some of the 1900s the worst dictators … “Childhood of a Leader” is a beautifully bleary-eyed film photographed by Lol Crawley …”

JPS Media (Sweden)

“A somewhat overly pretentious film, however, has many merits weighing up their account.”

SverigeRadio (Sweden)

“The Childhood of a Leader is the week’s most exciting film.” Score: 4

Frankly My Dear (Sweden)

” What is needed to be improved is the narrative itself. The line between allowing the viewer to figure things out for yourself and tell a little is subtle, Corbet make his film a bit mysterious in some key stage” Rating: 3/5 (Maria: I’m taking this as a positive rather than negative esp since the Rating is 3/5)

SVT (Sweden)

But on the whole it’s an impressive debut and Brady Corbet a director to watch.” Rating: 3

Konstpretton (Sweden)

“Robert Pattinson, who once again, in a small role, proving why he is something more than the actor who once played an iconic glittery vampire. The Childhood of a Leader as a whole is a film that … excites the intellect and the visions that remain in memory.” 4 out of 5

Operation Kino (Bulgarian | trailer review)

“Robert Pattinson continues with independent projects. Many liked him in ” Rover’s ” and follow with interest how to develop his career.

Shadows on the Wall (UK)

“Brady Corbet’s Venice-winner The Childhood of a Leader is a complex, difficult and fiercely original exploration of the personality of power.”

My Brooklyn Calendar (US)

Brady Corbet … delivers one ofthe most audacious directorial debuts of the year … with this allegory of totalitarianism in the wake of World War I. Corbet’s ambitious reflection on the dark forces of history features a special appearance by Robert Pattinson and a thunderous orchestral score by avant-garde icon Scott Walker.”

Britflicks (UK)

“Inspired by the childhoods of many of the 20th Century’s great dictators, it’s enlivened by an utterly chilling turn from Robert Pattinson …”

** Indicates Reaction Tweets from Sydney Film Festival (14 June 2016)

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER is the best film of the fest so far. Fark that score

(4:3 Film)**

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER was a very strange delight. Narratively sparse, all tone and mood. Much to unpack. #SydFilmFest

CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER Kubrick/Visconti mash w/ gravy. Twisted family dynamics & parallel history. Or something. Accomplished.

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER — an astoundingly ambitious and well-crafted from Corbet. Gonna have to think on it but v impressed

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER was a complete surprise. What a strange, interesting beast. Stylised, precision film making. I dug it

Going to take a while to shake CHILDHOOD – looks incredible, that score was a hard punch to the face. Best Director at Venice, yep dig it.

THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER: stylish, tightly-controlled period piece that requires some unpacking. Bérénice Bejo a standout.

 ** (see Falkenscreen review below)

Best score I’ve heard in ages great performance from could have used more screen time

FalkenScreen (Film Critic | Syd Film Fest)

“A lot of folks will see this film for Robert Pattinson, but they should see it for the score. … Robert Pattinson pops his head in occasionally in a markedly proficient turn which should have merited him more screen time. A shame, because in his absence nothing really transpires, despite what the film’s unresting score might suggest.”

Daily Review (Syd Film Fest | Aust)

“By this point things were, however, beginning to look suspiciously like a certain somebody was intent on emerging from an arty cocoon as a real, serious, respected, bona fide capital-A Actor.

Pattinson has an important supporting role in The Childhood of a Leader, though not a particularly large one. His is a little like a bookend performance, with a few bits and bobs sticking out in the middle. …

Robert Pattinson, for what it’s worth, is pretty good”

Indiewire (US)

“Corbet delivers a strange and startling film … Robert Pattinson (a glorified cameo during which he willfully melts into the musty furnishings of Corbet’s sets).” B+

An Online Universe (Andrew Buckle | Syd Film Fest)

“The performances are strong; Bejo, and Robert Pattinson (in only a few key minutes of screen time) especially.  I was blown away by this film. The confidence in the craft, the ambition and the willingness to take chances, to be surreal and provocative. One of my favourite cinema experiences of the year.”

Thelowdownunder (Stephen Russell | Syd Film Fest | Melb FF)

“While Twilight fans may be downtrodden when they realise how little screen time he has, the increasingly impressive star makes an indelible mark nonetheless.”

FilmAlert101 (Australia) *NOTE this review has ending spoiler*

“It’s a good thing there are so many film festivals around the world. This film is an appropriate vehicle for such festivals. It’s clearly worth watching and it is certainly consciously ambitious, although it does not achieve its aims in my view. But it is certainly worth watch”

StageBuddy (BAMFilmFest | US)

“Corbet delivers an intoxicating mix of visual imagination, finely wrought period detail, and a palpable atmosphere of dread and foreboding at odds with the seemingly low stakes action”

In Review Online (BAMFilmFest | US) Note: Not a great review for film as a whole though

“Corbet gets the Kubrick-by-way-of-Glazer atmosphere just right, in no small part thanks to Scott Walker’s tremendous score (half classical symphony, half avant-garde industrial noise—and wholly one of the greatest pieces of original music composed for a film this century)”.

The Skinny (Edinburgh FF | UK)

“With his own directorial debut, Childhood of a Leader, Corbet delivers a film as ambitious and formally dazzling as any in which he’s performed. There are hints of flavours belonging to several filmmakers he’s acted for, but the heady brew Corbet creates is all his own.” 5/5

The People’s Movie | CultureFix (Edinburgh FF | UK)

” A small role from Robert Pattinson impresses with the actor bringing a quiet gravitas to the fold as a kindly friend of Prescott’s father.”

So good, I’m going to watch it a second time now!

4:3 Film (Connor Bateman | Syd Film Fest | Australia)

” Corbet’s heady mess of influences — literary, philosophical and formalist cinema — gives way to a visceral and discomforting command of tone. Moments like this are what makes The Childhood of a Leadersuch a fascinating debut feature film, marking Corbet as a filmmaker to watch.”

Serving Cinema (Edinburgh FF | UK)

“Robert Pattinson also appears in a scene-stealing dual role cameo …”

Seen Some (Edinburgh FF | UK)

“Corbet has done an excellent job of pulling together an impressive cast and crew, from Lol Crawley’s rich, textured cinematography to a uniformly excellent cast that also includes a small but ultimately pivotal role for Robert Pattinson.”

Front Row Reviews (East End FF | UK)

“The London Premiere of THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER … is an evocation of emerging evil, [with] a chilling turn from its star Robert Pattinson”

TakeOne (Edinburgh FF | UK)

“Corbett has assembled a cast that includes … TWILIGHT heart-throb-turned-indie-arthouse-actor Robert Pattinson. … What is certain at the Edinburgh International Film Festival UK Premiere of his new film, is that Corbett has more than proved his worth in the arthouse cinema cannon with THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER, and is a solid directing force to get behind in the years to come.”

Rolmar Baldonado (Letterboxd | Australia)

“Strong performances support a chilling premise that’s as scary as any of the horror films around”

Indian Link (SydFilmFest | Australia)

Aquarius, the story of an older woman fearlessly standing up to the shady tactics of a developer, as the winner. … I must have missed the cutting edge bit that has been highly lauded!More impressive movies (at least to me!) were Apprentice from Singapore, Land of Mine (Denmark, Germany) and The Childhood of a Leader (UK, Hungary, France). (My emphasis)

Nochnfilm (Germany | Edinburgh FF)

“Certainly the acting performances of all participants are impressive and the soundtrack is more than extraordinary. But ultimately it is the film failed to pick me up. (2.5 / 5)”

The Scotsman (Edinburgh Film Fest | UK) (Contains spoiler)

“The 27-year-old actor’s directorial debut premiered last week and though it’s not included in this Sunday’s “Best of the Fest” strand, it is the movie that remains most pertinent, especially with what’s going on in the world.”

It’s Just Movies (US)

“Robert Pattinson and Bérénice Bejo are rock solid … This is a fantastic achievement by first-timer Brady Corbet and a talented cast and crew.

One Room with A View (Edinbugh Film Fest | UK)

“Pattinson’s first scene is a revelation that should put Twilight to bed for good, …” 3/5

Bloodstab (Atlantida FF | Spain)

“the first film directed and written by Brady Corbet together to Mona Fastvold fascinating, sublime, driving in the direction is right and the young filmmaker denotes an unusual experience for someone who dares with a film like this in his first career as a director, surprised by the end result that gives your production thanks to a great little deal where stand out on how Bérénice Bejo as the mother and the child Tom Sweet , also appear Liam Cunningham and Robert Pattinson in a role that is best discovered while watching the movie and Stacy Martin ( ‘ Nymphomaniac ‘) as one of the teachers of the future leader. Highly recommended.”

We Are A Film (Atlandida FF | Spain)

“the debut of Brady Corbet dazzles above all …

Flavorwire (BAMFilmFest | US)

“Actor-turned-director Brady Corbett shoots and cuts in a style that’s almost obstructively classical – his film is painterly, precise, ornate, and paced deliberately enough to turn off less indulgent art-house patrons. But it’s full of remarkable compositions and gorgeous imagery, and if the early sections seem untethered, faith and patience pay off. He spends 100 or so minutes coiling his film tightly, before letting it explode in psychological warfare and horrible violence. A challenging picture, to be sure, but a powerful one.”

Fantasiacine (Atlantida FF | Spain)

“one of the most exciting debut that we witnessed last season, a film of an overwhelming visual momentum whose formal goal posts used by the director make witness a very unusual first film, the feeling that the young Corbet has jumped several steps of the usual directorial learning, at times overwhelming formal mechanism header in a first for a shoot in a splendid 35 mm, a brilliant planning your staging or use of its soundtrack by the great Scott Walker medium way between the thundering, raucous and psychopathic regard as an element of a collective mental state determined and operatic and sublime as a faithful portrait of a very particular time (early twentieth century, ended the First World War and in full drafting of the Treaty of Versailles in Paris, a time that results in a patriotism and a very exacerbated) religiosity, made a debut that oozes equal parts chutzpah, security and perhaps high dose calculation when filing a structure supposedly autoral, which latter sometimes plays against the film.” 4/5

Monsters and Critics (US)

“A fantastic achievement by first timer Brady Corbet and a talented cast and crew.”

Videodromo (Atlantida FF | Spain)

“The childhood of a leader” is a vast, almost incomprehensible work in a single viewing, being one of the most valued works online film festival, but no doubt that will reach its greatest proportions projected on the big screen.”

Micropsia (Jerusalem FF | Argentina)

“THE CHILDHOOD oF a LEADER is the attempt to Brady Corbet to join this tradition of cinematically ambitious films directed by actors. And while his first work is far from being a masterpiece, it is undeniable that surprises, shocks and marks the presence of a director to be taken into account in the future, almost certainly.”

Filmin (Carlos Losilla of Cayman Film Notebooks | Atlantida FF | Spain)

“The Childhood of a Leader uses historical recreation as a speaker, and sound editing as chirp and collision, to propose framings on the edge, dark lighting, abysmal mounts, bleeding ellipsis, continually tear the story to bring it to a hysterical dimension to break into a thousand pieces. And the result is an audiovisual aggression, a film about the ambiguity of dissent dissenter even from herself.” 8 out of 10

Filmin (Lee Marshall  of Screen | Atlantida FF | Spain)

“The Childhood Of A Leader is as relentlessly sombre and compelling as the film’s remarkable, full-volume orchestral soundtrack by musician’s musician Scott Walker (…) an uncompromisingly grown-up, intelligent, allusive cineaste experience.” 9 out of 10

Filmin (| Atlantida FF | Spain)

“The Childhood of a Leader is a dark, enigmatic piece of work that hovers between visionary greatness and petty domestic triviality. Corbet’s inaugural stint behind the camera marks a stunning debut.” 10 out of 10

We Got This Covered (US)

“… The Childhood of a Leader is a fascinating film, as moving and irresistible as it is terrifying. … It may surprise, it may shock, and it may occasionally bore, but it leaves an indelible impression.” 4/5 stars

Habladecine (Atlantida FF | Spain)

“In the section of the interpretations the three protagonists adults Bérénice Bejo (The Artist), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) and Robert Pattinson (Twilight) are at a good level, peo no doubt who takes the palm is young Tom Sweet , child playing brilliantly.” Score: 7.6

Hey U Guys (UK)

“(Robert Pattinson) in a deceptively small role…. [Corbet] makes his directorial feature debut with The Childhood of a Leader, and what an explosive and thrilling debut it is.”

The People’s Movie (Trailer | UK)

“Once again, Robert Pattinson has distanced himself once again from his Twihard days which won’t please them but a sign of his maturity and respect in acting”.

Ioncinema (Nicholas Bell | US) NOTE: Review contains *spoiler*

“Pattinson, whose mere presence will introduce the film to an undiscerning legion of acolytes happy to follow wherever he may tread, is used sparingly here, though strikes a formidable figure in what’s meant as the final reveal.”

Observer (US)

“cast is very good…The Childhood of a Leader is a dark & creepy work, flawed but ambitious and well worth seeing.”

Bedford+Bowery (US)

“you can take turns marveling at all the weirdness and staring at Robert Pattinson– a gloomy, babe-ish presence in this film”

Screen Anarchy (US)

“Bearded Robert Pattinson does a fine job playing a double role in two of the film’s most enigmatic characters.”

Hammer to Nail (US)

“For the most part the actors do a wonderful job embodying their parts, with extra kudos to Stacy Martin who acts as the boy’s French teacher, and is one of the few characters (along with the maid) that adds sweetness to the astringent proceedings.” (Positive response to film – have placed his negative Robert comment below)

Brooklyn Magazine (US)

“ Around the film’s margins lurks Robert Pattinson, in a role plainly sutured onto the narrative either to set up a twist or secure financial backing for the film, or both. … nd The Childhood of a Leader’s ending, finally, is the film’s least cautious section, a passage of misconceived but grandiose vision that gives a sense of the operatic, pretentious, compelling filmmaker Corbet will surely become.”

New York Times (US)

“heavily supported by an excellent cast that includes Robert Pattinson and Yolande Moreau as well as a driving score that occasionally threatens to upstage the movie. ”

AV Club (US)

“… a small role for a cast-against-type Robert Pattinson. … Corbet and co-writer Mona Fastvold’s script is schematic, but moves unpredictably, disrupted in arresting ways by a readiness to try or imitate this or that. And in that final section, having exhausted its deep well of influences, it arrives at an identity of its own.”

Fabled (US)

“English actor Robert Pattinson, his virtuosity and range finally exploited”

The Village Voice (US) | Miami New Times US)

“Corbet’s narrative restraint coupled with his formal daring makes for a gripping experience. It’s a slow burn, but the fuse attached had me holding my breath.”

NY Post (US)

“.. Lurking around the house is Robert Pattinson as a friend of the family, waiting to assert his plot significance … Still, it’s a promising debut: Better an uneven, occasionally bonkers first film than one that plays it safe.”

Metro (US)

“It’s a film worth living in, provided you can ignore and maybe even forgive its tendency to go simple. And it might even convince us that Corbet is getting his worst instincts out of the way while developing the ones that are undeniably strong.”

Red Carpet Crash (US)

“…. but Robert Pattison fans will be surprised at how little screen time he has … Corbet proves he is a filmmaker we should follow closely. His visual acumen is something special, and offsets a script that could have used a bit of polishing. The movie will probably prove divisive – either you will find it mesmerizing and creepy, or you simply won’t connect at all. That’s often the case with a creative and bold project.

The Knockturnal (US)

“Ultimately Childhood won’t answer any burning questions about what makes a child become a tyrant or offer much in the way of horror thrills, but it will leave you excited to see what comes next in Corbet’s directing career.”

Roger Ebert (US)

“That it has the courage of cryptic-ness, and leaves sympathetic viewers intrigued long after its final images have faded, is enough to mark “The Childhood of a Leader” as an uncommonly promising debut.” 3 stars

CutPrintFilm (US)

“Corbert, in contrast, has decided to dive in head first, delivering something special in the process. The Childhood of a Leaderis commanding enough to make one pay attention to whatever Corbert cooks up next. ”

The Young Folks (US) *contains major spoiler*

“Pattinson is proving to be a strong character actor more than capable of fitting into an ensemble.”

Fathers on Holy Gore (US)

“Although there are a few flaws – no first time feature is perfect, even the greatest – The Childhood of a Leader is one of the best debut features from a director that I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever.”

LA Times (US)

“Strong, tightly-wound lead performances, as well as a brief, nicely modulated supporting turn by Robert Pattinson as a politician and family friend, help hold interest.”

Empire Magazine (UK)

“Brady Corbet’s debut is impressive, unsettling and elusive” 4 stars

Total Film (UK)

“… submit to Corbet’s vision and you’ll find something original and unsettling” 4/5 stars

Den of Geek (UK)

“it’s a compelling subject with some serious talent behind it. We might not have said so a few years ago, but we’d also recommend it based on the involvement of Robert Pattinson, who’s lost his sparkly lustre from his Twilight days but accrued some serious credibility from subsequent projects like this one.”

Shockya (US)

“But its most appealing feature is Scott Walker’s score, reminiscent of a high-class horror film, screeching with dissonance at key points.” Acting B-

Pop Matters (US)

Brady Corbet’s disturbing psycho-historical melodrama is like the Stanley Kubrick edit of The Grand Budapest Hotel. … The Childhood of a Leader is nevertheless a macabre and even sometimes thought-provoking piece of operatic doom in which great historical shifts take a back seat to a more individual view of evil.” 8/10 stars

Home Cinema (Manchester, UK) *Podcast*

Podcast review which starts at 6.24 – found film flawed but fascinating. Loved the soundtrack and recommended film to be seen because of Walker’s score. Both agree film will be divisive.


“Brady Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader is a stunning effort from an auteur in the making ..”

Chris Knipp (US)  *contains major spoiler*

“Corbet’s The Childhood of a Leader is elegant and original, and one hopes it is a promise of much good to come …”

Audience Everywhere (US)

“It is easy enough to tell that Corbet has the makings of a great filmmaker, if not at the very least an assured one. And one should find solace in that The Childhood of a Leader, ultimately flawed albeit well-crafted in both hypnotic atmosphere and content, is not nearly close to the eventual opus of his career. ” B-

The Skinny (UK)

The Childhood of a Leader he delivers one of the most impressive directorial debuts in recent years”

We Make Movies on Weekends (US)

“The Childhood of a Leader is an audacious initial cinematic statement, its cerebral doggedness disguising the fact that it dispenses with the psychological complexities of Sartre’s source material. The movie may be too much a politically-infused adult fairy-tale to find much approval amongst the Hollywood crowd, but I suspect that was never Corbet’s intention.”

50 Connect (UK)

“[Pattinson] gives a subdivided but convincing performance as Charlie”

Guardian Film (UK) | Scan

“… a beautifully studied, arresting couple of hours that feels at times like 1970s Kubrick.”

Vulture Hound (UK)

“…  an impressive debut by Brady Corbet …  the ambition involved is something to be praised, as most films do not attempt to balance the concerns of the domestic with the universal in quite such a way.”

The Upcoming (UK)

“Corbet draws strong performances from all the adult cast, but it’s newcomer Tom Sweet who is the revelation …”

List Film (UK) *contains major spoiler*

“But performances are not what this film will be remembered for, rather how self-consciously it’s designed, composed, decorated and shot to proclaim the arrival of a ‘Serious Filmmaker’.”

Film Feeder (UK)

The Childhood of a Leader is a fictional amalgamation of several totalitarian figures in the early 20th century, resulting in a dangerous and frightening reflection of true evil in its most human form.”

Flick Reel (UK)

“The performances are strong, with a fine cameo from Robert Pattinson, who continues to make such interesting projects post-Twilight …”

The Movie Waffler (Ireland)

“Confidence seeps from every pore of Corbet’s film … America may have just found its next great filmmaker.”

Time Out (London)

“‘Childhood’ is not always a subtle film, and some of the writing and acting feel like a bit of a slog. But its very spooky mood leaves a strong impression.”

Eye for Film (UK)

“Those sold on seeing the film on Robert Pattinson are likely to be disappointed. His appearance here is crucial narratively but unusually small for an actor of his box office heft. … Those sold on seeing the film on Robert Pattinson are likely to be disappointed. His appearance here is crucial narratively but unusually small for an actor of his box office heft. … ”

Humanizing the Vacuum (UK)

“The Childhood of a Leader trusts the audience’s ability to get the connections it tries to make. It has the rhythm of an exercise, a testing of new powers. It’s the most unlikely directorial debut by an actor in years.”

Cinesthesia (UK)

“What’s around him is historically and psychologically acute, and possessed of a seriousness we don’t often see in young actors’ directorial debuts; it’s also technically audacious.”

Culture Catch (UK)

“This is film of such artistic merit, that even those who might not be swept away by this tale, will nonetheless have to admit here is a major new talent, whose future promise seems without boundaries”

The Citizen (Aust – Melbourne Intl FF)

The most intriguing film of the festival for me was The Childhood of a Leader, the directorial debut of 27-year-old American actor Brady Corbet. Co-starring Robert Pattinson and Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham … It’s an ambitious, overconfident debut and I’ll certainly track down each of his subsequent movies.”

Derek Winnert

“There’s not really that much for Pattinson to do, or that he can do, but he does it well, also supporting the film with his name.”

The Arts Desk (UK)

“The trauma of the war and its aftermath are never far away, and the occasional presence of a bearded Robert Pattinson, playing a widowed family friend (and perhaps a lover), doesn’t lighten the load.”

Freda Cooper | Flickering Myth (UK)

“The Childhood Of A Leader is a dark, enigmatic film that fascinates and teases but is never less than absorbing.”

The Guardian (UK – Peter Bradshaw)

” His father’s only friend is a journalist and free-thinking intellectual, elegantly played by Robert Pattinson …” 5 out of 5 stars

The Irish Times (Ireland)

“Childhood of a Leader review: a stunning high-art debut ….The performances are all strong…”

Candid Magazine (UK)

“The performances are capable … Robert Pattinson also enjoys a meandering dual role that casts uncertain light on the rest of proceedings.”

Sight & Sound (UK)

“The adult actors are all excellent, though required to be stooges for Sweet.”

Financial Times (UK)

“Amazing … Sharp-honed irony is mixed with assaultive power.”

BritFlicks (Different from review above) (UK)

“… art house yet also brash, ambitious, original and a highly intriguing precursor of how he will go on to develop as a director.”

Contact Music

“Corbet’s direction is astonishing, capturing the characters’ haunted eyes with minimal lighting. … The final scenes are perplexing, but this bracingly important film can’t help but leave the audience with plenty to chew on.”

Alan in Belfast (Ireland)

The Childhood of a Leader is not a feel good film. But it is a curious, slow-moving inspection of a disturbing family life that isn’t so far removed from ordinary households to be unfamiliar.”

The Telegraph Co | Right Relevance (UK)

“…this result is a riveting, heart-clutching moral ghost-train ride for right now – and the first step in a filmmaking career to follow with bated breath.”

Daily Mail (UK)

“Robert Pattinson of Twilight is in fine form …”

The Big Issue (UK)

“Robert Pattinson turns up, as a widowed journalist who may or may not be having an affair with Prescott’s mother. But Twilight fans note: this film is, in the best sense, a challenging watch, and it is to its credit (and Pattinson’s) that it makes abrasive demands on us.”

Little White Lies (UK)

“Robert Pattinson has two roles that comprise fifteen minutes of screen-time combined. His presence endorses rather than enables this winningly strange vision. … We are avid followers of the Pattinsonasance.”

Sci Fi Now (UK)

“Scott Walker’s extraordinary soundtrack keeps all these disparate scenes driving ever forwards with great intensity to their bleak alt-history future.”

RadioTimes (UK)

“…this is a bold, uncompromising film that gradually takes a hold.”

The National (Scotland)

“…  it’s hugely rewarding to those willing to embrace its temperament and grand ambition, laying the groundwork for even greater things to come from this first-time director.”

Pure M Magazine (Ireland)

“family friend Charles (Robert Pattinson) sometimes wanders by as the voice of reason…Overall The Childhood of a Leader is a fascinating film, likely to stay with you for some time. ”

The Lost Highway (UK)

“Sinister, pompous and prone to the occasional stammer it may be, but nevertheless The Childhood Of A Leader suggests he may have found his true calling.” 3.5 stars

Max Ren Blog (UK)

“Robert Pattinson is particularly fine … This is one of the most fascinating, intriguing and mysterious films of the summer.”

Talking Pictures (UK)

“…this is a film that requires serious concentration on the part of the audience.  Not that it’s a great effort, because it’s a fascinating piece of cinema which demands your attention, especially when it comes to solving its inherent puzzle.”

The Guardian (The Observer) (UK)

“it’s an impressive first film that marks Corbet as a talent to watch.”


“this bracingly important film can’t help but leave the audience with plenty to chew on.”

The State of the Arts (UK)

“while Robert Pattinson’s small but significant role further underlines his maturation into a fine character actor…The Childhood of a Leader will stand among the finest debut features ever made. One is left awestruck by Corbet’s sheer ambition, which calls to mind another wunderkind whose debut film wowed the world – Orson Welles. There is no higher praise to pay a filmmaker.” (Ireland)

“Overall The Childhood of a Leader is a fascinating film and is likely to stay with you for some time.”

Cuckoo Review (UK) *contains slight spoiler*

“…But it’s Robert Pattinson that steals it from the sidelines, bobbing in and out of the narrative just irregularly enough to cause some serious unease.”

The Film Prospector

“… while Robert Pattinson, as much as his role is a “distinguished” cameo, his turn here is probably his best to date”

Jack Blackwell’s Film Blog

“…As his parents, Liam Cunningham and Berenice Bejo impress, as does Robert Pattinson (again proving that there’s infinitely more to him than Twilight), ”

The Cleveland Movie Blog (US)

” It’s a compelling and highly watchable film, but one that isn’t nearly as important or revelatory as it seems to think it is. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.”

View of the Hearts (UK)

“… the intensely chilling score … It’s powerful and unnerving, sending the mind into a frenzy whenever it takes over”.

The Last Picture Blog (UK)

“Corbet has clearly been paying attention to a variety of directors and other crew members on a variety of sets, … there’s a strong voice here, and clear ambition, so I’m intrigued to see what he does in the future while admiring this assured debut.”

The Film Dispenser

“And while it is all of the above, the atmosphere is much more sinister, the characters more icy and distant than I had imagined. … The pace is glacial, the colour palette muted, emotions are stifled; and everything is driven along by a storming soundtrack by Scott Walker which is one of the best I’ve heard this year.”

Front Row Reviews (UK)

“This is a vast, sweeping film and a massive undertaking for a first time filmmaker but clearly Corbet knows what he is doing and is certainly a directorial talent to watch out for in the future.”

Film (Russia)

“On the actors involved in the film, talking is not easy. One has only to note that Robert Pattinson their appearance added picture points – his courage to plunge into the directorial debut of actor-peer can only applaud.” Score:  6

Plymouth Arts Centre (UK)

“The shrill finale of Corbet’s film is amplified by a tumultuous score by Scott Walker. The frenzied finale feels prescient, especially in light of the current Republican campaign for president of the United States. This is because Corbet does not just ask us to suppose how monsters are created in the first place, but why a mass of people would then go on to venerate them.”

Now Then Magazine | Filmreel (UK)

The Childhood of a Leader is a film of our time and must be seen.”

Vauge Visages

Even with the exceptional performances and tightly written characters (script by Corbet and Mona Fastvold), it’s the visuals that carry the film. … Corbet’s auterist style creates a memorable visceral effect. … the form and execution reveals someone fully in tune with a specific vision.


Corbet definitely shows an assured direction, full of both a stylistically unique voice, and a deft understanding of character.

Outline Online (UK)

Robert Pattinson is also beguiling as Charles, a colleague of the father, and fans of his earlier work should welcome him as a different beast.

c7nema (Portugal)

Children of The Leader is nevertheless one of the most exciting and courageous performing conversions view in the last years. Corbet escapes ” Seven feet ” of the marked destination of actors converted to directors and maintains a truly amazing film, and the concerns of the most suggestive and mysterious as possible.

DVD Corner *contains spoiler*

As for Robert Pattinson, he is strangely barely in this movie. Even stranger, he plays two roles for some unknown reason. His talent is frustratingly not put to good use here in a couple of bit scenes.

Close-Up Film (DVD)

On the plus side, there’s a compelling uneasiness about almost every aspect of the film, regarding its founding concept as well as every character in it: they’re all scary as hell in different, repressed sorts of ways.

Backseat Mafia (DVD)

The Childhood of a Leader is an extremely ambitious feature debut from Corbet. Thought-provoking and often obtuse, there’s no strong narrative. Instead, he opts for an existential argument of nature versus nurture. Embellished by a stunning soundtrack by Scott Walker, it’s beautifully made. There’s no mistaking that The Childhood of a Leader won’t be for everyone. That said, there’s much to please and entertain those who are prepared to give it a chance.

Herald Scotland (DVD) *Contains spoiler*

The film itself is as powerful and beguiling as Walker’s music.

Some Came Running (Fifty Noteworthy Films Released In The United States In 2016)

19.  I was, for multiple reasons, skeptical of this. The fact that Scott Walker (the real Scott Walker, not the undead politician who’s been soiling his name) deigned to do the score raised my eyebrow in a good way, and the movie itself is a very well-calibrated, often galvanic, psycho-political trip that turns out, unfortunately, to be Relevant To Our World Today. Brady Corbet done good.

Let’s Start With This One (DVD)

The acting is superb in this film and there is something about the way in which they all connect that makes the audience sit on the edge of their chair.

The Peoples Movies (DVD)

Nobody who goes to see a modern arthouse movie will fall out of their chair in surprise to see Robert Pattinson and Stacy Martin in it, but they both earn their place too with subtle, sincere performances.



THE CRUEL (Italy) *Venice

“Robert Pattinson bearded adds nothing to the film …”

The Guardian (UK) *Venice

” And while it was more a dud than not, you couldn’t help appreciate the ambition of The Childhood of a Leader, a sombre essay on French history from the actor-turned-director Brady Corbet, which essentially warned that inadequate parenting may result in angelic junior growing up to be a fascist dictator (played, in a supremely bizarre coda, by a bald, bearded Robert Pattinson).”

Le Billet (French/Swiss) *Venice

“Despite the quality of treatment, story structure is poor.  …

OutNow (German/Swiss)

“However, a good cast is still no guarantee for a good movie. The Childhood of a Leader has an extremely interesting basic idea, however, does not succeed in”

Cinematropolis (Portugal)

With the exception of the short appearance of Robert Pattison, who unfortunately clashes with the rest of the cast, the interpretations are all beyond reproach.”

Kristianstadsbladet (Sweden)

Corbets purposefulness is impressive, but this is ultimately more than what he fulfilwith. In particular, the ambition of the seven-year-old boy describe fascism surge inthe of World War I tormented Europe. It becomes simply too far-fetched and pompous. And probably required the well a little more than a lousy parenting to mother a dictator?” 2 stars (Bing translate)


Perhaps it also has to do with the film’s examination of evil seems to linger in Sartre’s era. Are we supposed to buy Oedipal traumas that evil root? It becomes almost a little embarrassing. Too bad, as otherwise there is so much good to say about this leader’s troubled childhood.”

Expressen (Sweden)

“But the ambitious proportions do not quite match the content. Robert Pattinson flits across the entire two roles without leaving footprints, which also applies to the film in general. It is an awfully neat cosmesis which unfortunately does not go in depth.”

Sentinel Owl (Australia) *NOTE this review contains ending spoiler*

” It is film full of metaphors but strangely it ultimately remains unsatisfying.”

John McDonald (SydFilmFest | Australia)

“This is one of those movies that was more interesting in theory than in practice. It’s actually spoiled by theory, and by a horribly pedestrian script.”

The Edinburgh Reporter (Edinburgh Film Fest | UK) (Contains spoilers)

“The biggest disappointment of this reviewer’s festival, The Childhood of a Leader held great promise” [Maria: I really don’t think this person got the film at all.  Especially a comment about a scene in the film that is so so wrong).

Pandora Magazine (Atlantida Film Fest | Spain)

“I did not like because it has not given me anything …’

Blogdecine (Atlantida FF | Spain)

“Advertised figure Robert Pattinson , who appears fortunately very little in the film …”

Film Comment (July|Aug ’16)

Childhood is less a j’accuse than a bad, half-remembered dream about history.”

In Review Online (BAMFilmFest | US)

“The film merely feels like an undeveloped wasted opportunity—until the last section jumps into the future, straining for a heavy historical context it doesn’t even begin to earn.”

Slant Magazine (US)

” A fleet genre effort would be this dynamic composition’s ideal vessel, but instead Corbet reaches for a dreary self-importance akin to that of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon.” 2 / 5 stars

FilmJournal (US)

“Brady Corbet combines a fine Euro cast, grandiose art direction and a thundering score by Scott Walker, but the result is an embarrassing hodgepodge that’s very hard to follow. A brief cameo by Robert Pattinson is unlikely to change its fortunes.”

Hammer to Nail (US)

“I could have done without Robert Pattinson whose opening scene adds little to the narrative and was clearly cast to boost international appeal.”

Filmleaf (US) *contains spoilers*

“It’s a fascinating, stifling, claustrophobic and given how brilliantly it presents itself, disappointing work.”

National Review (US)

“Instead, he avoids real intellectualizing and, despite his ambitious technique, sticks to the superficial political innuendo of pseudo-political art movies.”

Film and TV Now (UK)

“Despite it’s best intentions, there is a rather confusing through-line where plot lines and characters seem to have more significance that they should be and relationships are not as fleshed out as they need to be …” 2.5 stars

On Screen Film (UK)

“The culmination of Corbet’s film does lift it’s head briefly above water, to be fair, however the numbing effect of all that precedes it puts paid to any gravitas it might otherwise have enjoyed.”

Cinevue (UK)

“Overall, The Childhood of a Leader is not quite good, although it is intriguing. File it in the glorious failure category, and keep a close eye on what Brady Corbet does next.”

Minty Blonde (UK)

“I found this film to be an intriguing subject rendered redundant by some grating storytelling choices, ineffectual writing and hideous mangling of psychology,  not a terrible film but also one in no way worthy of the praise it has been awarded.”









  • IVI Score: 8 out of 10


  • Carmel
    Posted on November 15, 2015

    Wow. Thanks Maria.

    Even the Cruel reviews have me interested. They seem to building a manic tension of their own that I hope mirrors the film’s mood.. This premise had me hooked from the beginning.

    I’m off to goggle more on that soundtrack that seems to be a bit of a star

  • barbara
    Posted on July 29, 2016

    I always yawn when reading the critics who all seem to belong to the bleary eyed luvvie club, Robert Pattinson is an actor who the bleary eyed seem to think should be rubbished. They have always been harsh when the name Robert Pattinson is mentioned they attack, yet Robs body of work is up there with the best, he is one of the gifted actors in Hollywood today.
    I have walked out of the cinema after reading what the bleary’s had almost been frothing at the mouth about the movie and how fabulous the leading man/woman is, only to find it was a bunch of bollocks. Since then I ignore them. Robert Pattinson I can watch his movies more than once, twice etc….

    I have watched the Oscars and cringed when an actress is presented with the prize and she carries on like an out of control garden tap.

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