The Son – REVIEW

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There’s been a lot in media about nepo babies- those children of the famous who ride their parent’s coat tails seemingly refusing to get a job but wanting a parent paid for existence. Brooklyn Beckham is a case in point who has married into even larger wealth than his parents and was captured on social media driving around in a hugely expensive super car because, rumour has it, that he doesn’t want to be caught on the tube …..presumably afraid of the paparazzi getting a picture of the surgeon removing it….but we digress. Anyway The Son in writer-director Florian Zeller’s latest film adaptation of his stage play is the 17 year old Nicholas ( Zen McGrath) who has has struggled and failed to come to terms with his parent’s divorce. Currently living with his mother Kate (Laura Dern) whose herself is struggling to cope with his depression. ‘I don’t understand the sadness’ he tells her and wants to live his father Peter (Hugh Jackman) who himself has remarried to Beth (Vanessa Kirby) with whom he has had a baby.

Director Oliver Hermanus talks about directing Bill Nighy in, ‘Living’

Peter, a Manhattan lawyer in a prestigious office, is about to embark on a political consultancy which may lead to far bigger things for him. Maybe its guilt that he left Kate for Beth and ended the marriage. Nevertheless wanting to do the right thing he agrees to take in a troubled Nicholas and attempts at father-son bonding are awkward and his son’s issues don’t seem to be getting any better. Self-harming is hinted at and Nicholas plays on his father’s guilt over the affair and the motif of a washing machine washing the dirty laundry plays throughout.

Flashbacks to happier times only underline that his son was happy if a sensitive soul who has never and perhaps never will get over his parents break up. ‘I’m tired of being in pain!’ he tells his father who looks on blank faced like any parent trying his best yet not really knowing what the answer to the problem is in a manner not dissimilar to Alison Hammond on the numbers round in Countdown.

Read our review of the Anthony Hopkins starrer, ‘The Father’

Florian Zeller also wrote and directed the Oscar winning The Father and is constructed in a similar way with the film building to its best and most traumatic end scene. This is very much Hugh Jackman’s films struggling to help the son he loves but feels like he has let down. Laura Dern offers fine support though Vanessa Kirby‘s role is underwritten and is underused. Anthony Hopkins appears in one scene, and its a great scene, as a callous and emotionally brutal father to Jackman’s Peter and despite Peter’s best intentions perhaps the apple never falls far from the tree. Zen McGrath has the most difficult part in a role that a few years ago would have gone straight to Timothee Chamolet.

At times The Son is a hard watch especially for anyone who has gone through similar experience and like ‘The Father’ it’s the end scene that is a debilitating gut punch in what is slightly overlong film.

Watch The Son trailer……..

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