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THE SON. In the halls

I tried to be close to you. I tried to give you strength. What’s going on, Nicholas?. Peter sails in the dark. His boyfriend, Nic, looks like a satellite lost in space. He himself is about to enter a storm that will change his existence forever. We follow the reasoning on the family constellation formulated by Florian Zeller, French writer and director, born in 1979. Zeller uses the long stride of author seriality, as it was for Krzysztof Kieslowski with the Decalogue hey Film Blue, Red And White. Different points of view emerge from an analysis that takes time to deepen and develop.The Son the second chapter of the trilogy that began withThe Father (2020, Oscar to Anthony Hopkins) which will end with The Mother. As you may have understood, Zeller is conducting an investigation into the human psyche starting from comfort zones maid and emphasizing the moments when the horizontal line of relationships and daily decisions is broken by unpredictable events. When tensions, conflicts and crises of conscience rear up.
A creeping tragedy hidden by silences, distractions, misunderstandings. Once again, Zeller adapts one of his theatrical pieces for the cinema.
Here we are in New York middle class of tired well-being, of stressed rampants, of lofts with exposed bricks. The son indicated by the title is called Nicholas and would be a good student, albeit inattentive, if he hadn’t stopped going to school for a month. His parents have separated for a couple of years and he lives with his mother, Kate (Laura Dern), who has taken the divorce badly and pours her worries on him. Also because dad Peter ( Hugh Jackman) in the meantime started a family with Beth (Vanessa Kirby) with whom he has just had another son to whom he devotes a lot of attention. Peter is a brilliant business lawyer with political aspirations. Nicholas adores him but does not rest: despite the love received, he does not feel up to that father who is too often absent and lets himself go to a growing malaise. One shine that no one wants to call by its first name: depression. To which is added an innate instability which borders on mental illness. The alarm goes off when the boy asks to go and live with his father, his partner and his newborn brother.
Peter, who has an offer to move to Washington and join the staff of a rising senator, does everything to make him better, while Beth is wary. my baby, I can’t abandon him, he says. The story flows between Nicholas and Peter’s attempts to open up: the former through flashbacks to a happy childhood, protected by parents who seemed to have to love each other endlessly, the other remembering the conflicts with his father (Anthony Hopkins), a cynical politician unavailable to family affections. I have the right to start a new life with the person I love! Peter shouts in Nicholas’ face. Psychodrama at this point served.
The Son
a diary of missed opportunities, of inevitable mistakes, of missed turns. Father and son are two particles that touch and move away in a wave of regrets. Zeller uses a sobriety that is on the border between theater and cinema and surprising that to interpret his Peter he chose an actor who is more physical than cerebral like Jackman and an icy setting, as if to underline, in that tumult of emotions, the vanished warmth of feelings. The result is a troubled, anguished, worried film that manages to be convincing and moving in the heartbreaking moments thanks to essential and non-rhetorical dialogues. In the end, a winning bet.
Zeller describes the post-pandemic family as a ship abandoned to the waves, overwhelmed by disconnections, dystonias and conflicts. Jackman confided that he faced the most difficult test of his career: he copes with honor, and around him Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby and deb Zen McGrath make an excellent impression.

THE SON by Florian Zeller
(USA-France-Great Britain, 2022, duration 123′)

Starring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, Anthony Hopkins
Rating: *** out of 5
In the halls


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