The Son

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  • 2007
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 7.5  (10,056)
  • 86

The Son is a 2002 Belgian drama film directed and written by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The film stars Olivier Gourmet as Jean, a carpentry teacher at a vocational school, who discovers that one of his new students, Francis, is the son of the man that killed his own son. Struggling with his own emotional turmoil, Jean must decide how to handle the situation as Francis tries to connect with him and learn from him.

The film opens on Jean's mundane life as a carpentry teacher. We see him go through the motions of his daily routine, giving lectures and demonstrations to his students. However, we quickly learn that Jean is deeply troubled by a trauma from his past. He is constantly reminded of the tragic loss of his son, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident years prior. Now, Jean lives a solitary life, devoid of any meaningful connections to others.

Enter Francis, a young man who enrolls in Jean's class. While Jean doesn't recognize him at first, we soon learn that Francis is the son of the man who killed Jean's own son. As Jean becomes aware of Francis' identity, the film becomes a study of grief, loss, and the human need for connection.

As the two men interact, we see the tensions rise. Francis desperately wants to connect with Jean and learn from him, but Jean is conflicted. He struggles with trying to make sense of his own emotions in the face of the man responsible for his son's death. Throughout the film, we see Jean's internal struggle play out on screen. He vacillates between wanting to lash out at Francis and trying to connect with him.

One particularly poignant scene involves Jean giving Francis a driving lesson. As they drive around, we see the weight of reality slowly dawning on Francis. He comes to understand and accept the gravity of his father's actions, and feels the weight of the guilt associated with it.

The film is marked by intense emotional realism. Gourmet's portrayal of Jean is both raw and nuanced, capturing the complex emotions that come with loss and grief. Marinne, in his portrayal of Francis, brings a sense of awkwardness and vulnerability that underscores the film's exploration of human connections.

The film is shot in a simple and direct style, with the Dardenne brothers eschewing flashy camerawork for a more straightforward approach. However, this simplicity of style only serves to emphasize the weight of the film's themes. The camera remains focused on the characters, and the audience is allowed to fully inhabit Jean's world of pain and loss.

Throughout the film, we see Jean grapple with the idea of forgiveness. Can he find it in his heart to forgive the man responsible for his son's death? Can he connect with Francis in a meaningful way despite their shared pain? These questions linger throughout the film and drive the story forward.

In all, The Son is a powerful exploration of human emotions and the need for connection. It is a subtle and nuanced exploration of grief and forgiveness, elevated by strong performances and a restrained visual style. For those looking for a deep and affecting drama, The Son is an excellent choice.

The Son
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  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (10,056)
  • Metascore