review by Bobby Blakey
In 2020 writer/director Florian Zeller made his directorial debut bringing his play Le Père aka The Father to the big screen. This story was part of a trilogy of plays with the final entry Le Fils which serves as a prequel to The Father for the big screen titled The Son. This film stars Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, Hugh Quarshie and Anthony Hopkins reprising his role from The Father. Could this film bring yet another powerful look at the human condition or will it fail to find its voice ?
The Son follows 17-year-old Nicholas who no longer feels he can stay with his mother, Kate so he moves in with his father Peter and Peter’s new partner Beth a couple of years after his parents’ divorce. Juggling work, his and Beth’s new baby, and the offer of his dream job in Washington, Peter tries to care for Nicholas as he wishes his own father had cared for him. But by reaching for the past to correct its mistakes, he loses sight of how to hold onto the Nicholas in the present.
Heading into this film I was pretty intrigued to see where he was heading this time around. With The Father it was a heartbreaking but engaging look into one losing their memory and life as they know and the people around them. This film goes into a deeper and darker direction dealing with depression, loss, denial and the effects of generational torment. It is a completely different animal than the film and I loved it for that, but it is a bit heavier and might hit too close to home for some.
The story is simple on the surface, but you can see there is more to it all and waiting for it to unfold will be the marathon you have to choose to be a part of. I found it to be interesting, engaging and infuriating as it comes together. The denial of the truth breaks your heart as a viewer as you know things are not
getting better and will not end well. They struggle other characters deal with are just sad, but you see glimmers of hope that you just wait in hopes that the happy ending comes.
The cast are all great with Jackman bringing a variety of emotions to the role as he navigates his son’s issues and his new family. Zen McGrath is carrying a different kind of load that counter balances his relationship of what Jackman is bringing to the table. Their scenes together are the heart and heartache of this film. This is not an uplifting film, but an excellent one nonetheless. It is dealing with very serious life situations and not the kind of ride you want to take if you are hoping for rainbows and laughs.
Don’t let that sway you from the film as it is well executed and powerful in a very real way. Jackman is outstanding in easily one of the best performances of his career and once that has been getting award noticed for good reason. This is a great powerful film, but not sure it is one that will connect with as many as I think The Father did just due to the all too real subject matter. I hope that Zeller finishes out this trilogy with The Mother as well because he has something to say in these stories and I am here to listen.
Decide for yourself and check out The Son in theaters now.