"a film that shows the potential to be a great story, but never actually lifting off the ground"
A follow up to the critically acclaimed The Father, The Son analyses the troubled relationship between father and son and how generational struggle can get passed on even when one is trying to never repeat their parent’s mistakes.
Set in New York, the film focuses on Peter (Hugh Jackman), a successful layer in Manhattan, who seems to have the perfect life: A young wife, a baby boy and a successful career.
However, everything changes abruptly when his ex wife drops in unannounced to tell him that their teenage son Nicholas is in trouble. It is from this moment, that Peter has to face a new reality, one that steamed from his first failed marriage. Nicholas is not adjusting to the divorce and is spiralling towards depression and suicidal instincts.
Peter, who is desperate to prove everyone and himself that he can be a better dad than his own stern and cold father, tries to support Nicholas through his condition, however his own past and relationship with his father soon becomes an obstacle between the two.
Florian Zeller has once again adapted his play to the big screen. Following the outstanding production of The Father was going to be a really difficult tasks. Unfortunately, with The Son, the end result doesn’t come close to the play.
While the story has the potential to be a moving and heartbreaking depiction on how depression and anxiety can shape someone’s life so deeply to alter it to its core, the film falls short because of the almost nonexistent chemistry between the cast.
While individually both Hugh Jackman and Zen McGrath both deliver a strong performance, especially Zen who understood Nicholas’ struggles and mental instability and did justice to this deeply fragile young man, the cast as a whole never show the right amount of emotions.
What is lacking is the presence of a strong bond between each member of the cast. The feeling through the film was of watching strangers interact with one another, causing the audience to not completely buy into the emotional tragedy unfolding.
Both Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby seem detached from the story, as if their characters are outside looking in rather than living the events and being affected by them.
This choice could go hand in hand with the fact that the whole story centres around the relationship between father and son, especially because Peter is trying to not be like his absent father and wants to support Nicholas, however with the lack of support from the whole cast, it unfortunately falls short.
Although the film has its heartfelt moments, in the end the talent of each individual actor is not enough and it becomes difficult to create an emotional bond with the story, making The Son a film that shows the potential to be a great story, but never actually lifting off the ground.