Eve Hewson was nervous about singing in “Flora and Son,” a charming movie about a struggling young Dublin mother who tries to connect with her troubled son through music. But that didn’t mean he sought advice from his father, U2 frontman Bono.
“I learned a lot from him, in terms of life presence, stage presence. But I didn’t ask him for help,” Hewson said diversity Presented by Audible Sundance Studios. “He offered, and I was like, ‘No thanks.’ He’s a really good singer so I said, ‘No, no, no.’
In the movie, directed by John Carney and premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Hewson’s character Flora is new to the world of singing and songwriting. After he finds a discarded guitar, he connects with a Los Angeles-based online guitar teacher (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and finds purpose through the power of music. By the end of the feel-good film, he gained the confidence to perform in front of a crowd.
“I grew up playing music, so it was natural for me,” she says. “Being on stage, being the front man, I was kind of into it.” He remembers telling his father, “I can see why you like it. It’s kind of fun.”
Along with catchy tunes, “Flora and Son” is full of biting Irish humor. There is a big difference between comedy in Ireland and America, as most Irish cast members Oren Kinlan (the titular boy) and Jack Raynor (who plays Flora’s ex) admit.
“It’s very dry. It is very cutting. We like to go below the belt,” Hewson says. “American is more toilet humor. Let’s talk about sex and poo“
“We like to be self-deprecating,” Raynor exclaims.
Gordon-Levitt, the film’s token American, couldn’t agree more with her castmates. “In American comedy,” he says, “the audience wants to know when to laugh.”
Carney, the Irish filmmaker best known for “Once” and “Sing Street,” says there is a real demand for good stories.
“Remember how much fun and joy you had as a child? It goes and goes as you get older,” Carney said. “There’s a need that’s missing from the very dark stories that are dealing with how messed up the world is right now.”
These types of films are also important, says Gordon-Levitt. But there’s something to be said for channeling a little positivity.
“It’s easy to grab attention and captivate an audience by being pessimistic. The best way to get everyone’s attention is to run up a hill and say, ‘We’re all dying!’ Everyone is going to pay attention,” he said. “It’s a little bit harder to come up to an audience and be like, ‘Life is beautiful.’ People ignore you. It can be hard to be optimistic in this day and time. But shouldn’t that be the storyteller’s job?”