Review: The Son
Peter (Hugh Jackman) is a busy man with a new baby with wife Beth. (Vanessa Kirby) His ex wife, Kate (Laura Dern) shows up one day to inform Peter that their son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) is really struggling with depression. Now he insists on living with Peter, who now has to find a way to take care of his son and intrigrate him into his new life.
Remember when everyone was predicting Hugh Jackman would get an Oscar nomination for this performance before it came out? How could they not? It's Florian Zeller's follow up to the esteemed The Father. After watching this, it's hard to believe they come from the same director.
Everything about this film aside from Vanessa Kirby bothered me. Beth is innocent, and did not deserve to be questioned as much as she did. She is the only one that isn't completely stupid or cringe-worthy. Peter says he wants to help Nicholas, but lacks the fundamental understanding of depression and teenagers in general to be of any use. Kate behaves in a way I hope I never will if I'm ever faced with a divorce. She oversteps, she reminisces about her marriage with Peter when it feels so inappropriate to do so. It's no wonder that Nicholas is also still very hung up on his parent's split. Then there's Nicholas. Zen McGrath was not up to the level of acting required for this very troubled young man. He was awful and it made it impossible for me to even sympathize with him because I just found him painful to watch.
I think this film wants to have a discussion about mental illness, but it never really gets there. Nicholas acts out, the parents handle it in the worst way possible. The ending you can see coming from a mile away. At one point in the film, Zeller completely wastes the audiences' time with a dream sequence. I cannot stress enough how ill-placed this sequence is. If you've seen the film, you know. If not, it's a huge spoiler, but you probably already know what's going to happen anyways.
I'm actually surprised at how much I disliked this. I knew it got bad reviews, but I'm a sucker for dark family dramas and I figured I would find something to enjoy here. Nope.