With Sony Pictures’ classic “The Son,” writer-director Florian Zeller defies expectations of parents — and traditional movie storytelling.
He asks big questions, but doesn’t give easy answers. This alienated some audience members who wanted the film to conform to familiar movie tropes, or at least follow the pattern of Zeller’s 2020 “The Father,” which is real and not, and has a big twist.
But the district doesn’t want to follow those rules.
Zeller wrote 13 plays, adapting two into his first films. “Most of my plays are structured as mazes or mazes, like ‘The Father,'” he says. diversity. “But for ‘The Son,’ I tried to be simple and straightforward, not to make a gimmick about it, but to face it, so we chose a very linear way to tell the story.”
At the beginning of the film, Peter (Hugh Jackman) meets his ex Kate (Laura Dern), who is at a loss over how to handle their son Nicholas (Jane McGraw). So teenage Nicholas moves in with his father, Peter’s young wife, Beth (Vanessa Kirby), and their infant son.
Nicholas is clearly unhappy, but is this just teenage angst or something deeper and more troubling?
“When the film opens, he can be a regular teenager, and it takes time to understand what’s going on, especially if you’re not familiar with these concepts,” says Zeller. “The whole point of making the film was to open up a conversation, because there is so much ignorance, shame and guilt. Only one in three teenagers is getting the care they need.
“I wanted to tell this story from a parent’s perspective. They are in love but sometimes it is not enough.
“I was trying to understand not what pain meant, but what it meant to be powerless and make wrong decisions. “
People think we know how to react to stressful situations, but we are usually wrong. So some viewers find Peter, Kate and Beth unbelievable. But in fact, they are painfully believable. We are in denial about how much a person can deny.
Consulted with district experts, who confirmed that parents often do not know how to seek the right help.
Writer-directors Jackman and Dern are lucky to have such a great cast, along with Oscar contenders (like Zeller). Jackman wrote her a letter, in essence, that he would love 10 minutes with the helmer if the role was available.
“We met,” Zeller says, “and he had an honest connection to this pain and emotion. I knew it was not just an actor who would be drawn to a part, but also a man, as a father and as a son. I was honored. That he was brave and honest enough to come out to me like this. He’s an amazing actor and human being.”
With Dern, for the supporting role as the ex-wife, “casting is an instinctive process. I was looking for actors who were open to exploring their bond with this story. Laura was very aware of this difficulty. ‘There’s a mental-health epidemic and I want to try to do something about it,’ he says.
“My goal was to put the audience in the shoes of people who don’t know how to help someone else. It takes courage to ask for help, especially if parents can accept the fact that they are not well-equipped.
“When you’re going through a difficult moment, you always feel alone. Art is about letting you know you’re not alone.”