The Son Review – A Passionate and Heartbreaking Journey of Family

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The Son, from Sony Pictures Classics, presents a dramatic heartfelt look into the challenges of life after divorce, co-parenting, hurt, rejection, and a family struggling to cope as they navigate what has become the new normal.

Having the opportunity to attend the AFI Film Festival premiere screening, the film opens with Beth, played by Vanessa Kirby, singing a lullaby to her infant son. Peter, played by Hugh Jackman, comes to the doorway watching his new wife. This tender moment is interrupted by a knock on the door. He answers to find his former wife, Kate, played by Laura Dern, trying to explain there is a problem with their son, Nicholas, played by Zen McGrath, who is now a teenager.


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Swiftly, we understand Nicholas is struggling with his place, living with his mom, and missing his dad, feeling uncomfortable and unwanted he begs his dad to let him live with him. Peter loves his son, and while, he also is the master of his universe, a highly successful Manhattan corporate lawyer he is shortlisted for legal counsel of a high-profile political campaign.

Suddenly, the new path he built after leaving his first wife is upended by the needs of his son. And while many may feel reluctant to add remnants of the old life with the new, to his credit he doesn't hesitate to attempt to rescue his son from the unseen demons that seem to have him wounded.

We find that Nicholas is a cutter, bent on self-harm he cuts himself to create an actual physical scar to represent the inarticulable. We also understand Peter is unable to wrap his mind around the gravity of this issue, and resorts to authoritative parenting, forbidding his son to ever do this to himself again.


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Of course, this has no effect on Nicholas' issues. So, to appease his dad he fabricates a life that he knows would please him, friends, an upcoming dance, shopping together, enduring the bonding that Peter believes will help him articulate the mental trauma.

This sets up a nice scene, where Peter teaches his son to dance, and the three of them, Beth, Peter, and Nicholas seem to finally be gelling as a family. It doesn't last as Nicolas, volunteers to babysit when the regular sitter is unavailable and Beth who is fiercely protective, explains there is something wrong with him, and she is afraid to leave their son with him.

Finally, Peter tells Nicholas to explain his feelings "in his own words." More than a teenage struggle we understand there is an abyss in his mind that seems to pull him further and further way from reality and into his own world filled with void and nothingness. During this time, Peter tries to reconcile his own father-son history and we meet his dad, played by Anthony Hopkins, also a master of his own domain.


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Nicholas' suicide ideations manifest and he is found by Beth. For many the following scenes reveal the deepest challenges parents confront when trying to help their children heal after suicide attempts and it is excruciatingly painful.

The Son portrays the polar experiences of life, the highs and lows, the elation and despair. It has moments of charm and agony. The ensemble cast embody authenticity and for many the emotional journey, even the untold or unwritten, is clear.

The Son, a story of family, life, and hope, opens in theaters November 25, 2022. See it.


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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 123minutes.

Director: Florian Zeller.

Producer: Joanna Laurie, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Florian Zeller, Christophe Spadone.

Writer: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller based on Florian Zeller's play Le Fils.

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, Anthony Hopkins.

*Mental illness cannot be healed by love alone, if you or anyone you know is suffering from suicide ideation seek professional help. National suicide lifeline can be reached at "988."

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