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THE SON (2023)

Release Date: 01/20/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Action/Thriller

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

"Peter has his busy life with new partner Beth and their baby thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas." 


Despite basically no one seeing The Father last year, the tiny amount of people (including me) who did found it to be stunning. With the deep subject matter of exploring the brutal reality of living with dementia, in a careful yet captivating way, it landed Anthony Hopkins Best Actor and Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. It was one of my favorites of the year. In Zeller's latest attempt at adapting another one of his plays, The Son lacks any sort of storytelling effort that I saw in The Father


Peter (Hugh Jackman) is a new-again father to his second son with his new wife Beth (Vanessa Kirby). They get a visit from Peter's ex wife Kate (Laura Dern) saying that their teenage son Nicholas (Zen McGrath)  is having a hard time and she doesn't know what to do. Nicholas goes to live with Peter and Beth, with the hopes of making him feel happier. Ignoring clear signs of mental instability, the family continues to be shocked at the terrible self harming acts Nicholas continues to do. And that's pretty much the whole movie. That's it. I'm not kidding. 


The Son takes place before the events of The Father, however if you would have told me these two were not connected in any shape or form, I'd believe that more. It doesn't even feel like it's in the same universe since the people in The Father talk like real people and the characters in The Son talk like they were written by an AI. Even with the stunning lineup of Jackman, Dern, Kirby, and Hopkins reprising his role of Anthony, it just wasn't enough to save it. 


I'm truly so confused and frustrated by what happened here. Not that I was fully expecting this to be the same as The Father, that wouldn't be fair. If this was the vision, bravo I guess. But that does not change the fact that the film was nothing more than a bore. No artistic risks were taken and nothing was really said. If there was something more, it was completely lost on me. 

There was a real chance of exploring two parents figuring out how to help their suicidal child. It turned out very surface level, and the only realistic thing about it is the parents being utterly clueless to all the red flags. That still doesn't make it a moving story. In fact, I would say this could be read as damaging to the stigma of mental health. It perpetuates the stereotype of the hopeless child who can’t be fixed with the film’s need to be sad just for the sake of being sad. If you do decide to brave the theater for this limited release, The Son is in US theaters now.

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