THE SON (2022)
SYNOPSIS: A drama that follows a family as it falls apart and tries to come back together again. A couple of years after his parents’ divorce, 17‐year‐old Nicholas no longer feels he can stay with his mother, Kate. He moves in with his father Peter and Peter’s new partner Beth. 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.
If you are in a depressing bleak mood, don’t attempt to watch The Son. It’s going to leave you heartbroken and even depressed further for sure.
In Florian Zeller’s sophomore effort after his much acclaimed The Father, Hugh Jackman is Peter Miller, a highly successful man married to a young woman, Beth (Vanessa Kirby) with a newborn baby in tow. We learned that this is Peter’s second marriage as his ex-wife, Kate (Laura Dern) came knocking on his door one day to inform him that their firstborn, Nicholas (Zen McGrath) is skipping school and she wants Peter to spend more time with the latter.
Shortly after moving in to stay with his father and Beth, Nicholas is diagnosed as suffering from depression. With that, Peter struggles to cope with the relationship with his deteriorating son, a suffering Beth and an ex-wife who still pins for his love.
Jackman delivers a first class act as Peter Miller, a character that is emotionally complex, struggles with guilt and pain as a result of a failed marriage and the sobering fact that he might have neglected Nicholas in the process. Over the years, audiences have forgotten that Jackman is a solid actor besides being a certain mutated wolfman and in The Son, Jackman has proven he has aced his performance yet again.
Despite Jackman’s charismatic presence, Zeller’s adaptation of his stage play feels like a one-note melodrama without much dynamic nor empathy to speak of unlike The Father which speaks volumes on the subject of mental illness. Simply put, The Son is about a rich family with more than enough resources on hand to resolve the painful situation but fumble at every turn.
The baffling inclusion of having Anthony Hopkins playing Peter’s estranged father did the drama no favour as well. While it’s a nice brief scene to demonstrate why Peter resent his father for missing out on his life, it’s apparently not enough to tie it back to Peter’s current predicament with his own son.
The Son is a serious drama tackling a number of difficult issues including mental illness, the aftermath of a divorce, dysfunctional family etc. Even with the fine acting from the main cast, the drama is hampered by stiff writing and flat direction. Maybe the material works better on the stage than on the big screen.
Review by Linus Tee