I can’t tell exactly what it’s supposed to be, perhaps a symbolic arthouse parody/critique of nuclear family life?
Sometimes it seems like psychodrama, sometimes comedy… sometimes we get effectively haunting phantom visuals and sometimes the kid is sitting on a toilet wiping his ass with bible pages.
Lighting can be complex, or scenes can be lit with a single spotlight with inky blackness all around. The actors often look distraught, and the kid spends half the movie crying (and 15 minutes playing with an aerosol can). Their movements can be theatrical, like they’re hitting the marks of a dance routine (in fact, one scene is presented as a stage performance). Camera has some unique methods of moving and reframing to change a scene without cutting, and the kid acknowledges the camera in at least one scene, waving it forward as the family lurches haltingly through a field.
The movie is fully silent, but in accordance with the Director’s Intent (presumably), I played John Zorn’s The Mysteries album followed by the last 20 minutes of Filmworks XXV.
The kid would grow up to be a painter, worked on Genealogies of a Crime, and his dad was an actor, appearing in Truffaut films around this time.