The Son Movie Review

The Son movie poster

A tepid drama that seems like it was made 20 years too late, The Son follows a father and his ex-wife as they attempt to deal with their teenager’s depression and social isolation.

Largely a waste of the talents of Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern (oh, and recent Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby), The Son is nonetheless an easy enough movie to consume—the stars are at least trying, even if the material gives them very little to chew on. Every character is desperate in a way you’d expect from a family seeking answers to a problem that has no easy answers, though it’s hard to tell what is acting and what is on-screen realization that this desperate picture isn’t all going to come together the way intended.

Nicholas Miller, who plays the title character, didn’t work for me; surrounded by A-grade actors, he stands out and not in a good way (again, though, the material does him no favors).

From Florian Zeller, who made the crafty and ever-dynamic The Father, it’s shocking to see how lifeless The Son is in comparison. It’s such a straightforward and bland experience; where The Father was brimming in energy, this one feels stodgy and weary.

The final act doesn’t help; it’s painful in many ways, and not in the way Zeller intended. The ending feels cheap and unearned, and the big scene involving a psychiatrist doesn’t feel realistic at all. It may work on a stage (like The Father, the movie is based on a play by Zeller), but it’s a silly endeavor here.

Despite all its flaws, I’ve sat through much worse—Jackman tries, he really does, and for a while The Son hints at a light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a lame story filmed in a disappointing way; this is a drama that needed to come with a trigger warning, but not the one you may think.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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