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Liam Cunningham

'Childhood of a Leader' spins wintry tale around the formation of a fascist mind

'Childhood of a Leader' spins wintry tale around the formation of a fascist mind

“The Childhood of a Leader” is a chilly — and chilling — political thriller by way of a provocative domestic chamber piece. Strikingly mounted, lighted, shot and scored, this tense, decidedly arty film marks a bravura feature directing debut for young American actor Brady Corbet (“Melancholia,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene”). But will most viewers have the patience for its deliberate pace, elliptical telling and dark, emotional remove?

Set toward the end of World War I, the movie spirals around Prescott (Tom Sweet), an eerily defiant, mop-haired 7-year-old living in a gloomy chateau outside Paris with his...

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