A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Depression is portrayed in a raw and authentic way. The film displays the challenges in finding a connection between parents and children, especially when the latter become young adults. Also the helplessness parents can feel toward their children -- despite the love, compassion, and empathy they have for them -- as well as the impact of their decisions and life events, such as divorce.
Positive Role Models
Nicholas suffers from mental health issues, and is known to have self-harmed. His parents, Peter and Kate, love their child, dearly, but they make mistakes, such as ignoring a doctor's advice. The film explores their subsequent guilt.
The film explores a central character suffering with mental health issues. The family at the heart of this story are all White, meaning the film is made up mostly of White actors. There is a key character who is a doctor, played by a Black male.
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Violence & Scariness
Parents find a knife under their child's mattress and there are references to self-harm. A parent grapples with their child and pushes them to the ground. Suicide is a theme. Spoiler: A character attempts it and later succeeds in taking their own life. They shoot themselves -- it happens off-screen, but the gunshot is heard.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple are seen kissing passionately with the suggestion that this will lead to sex, but they are interrupted and stop.
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Occasional use of the word "f--k" as well as language such as "a--hole" and "balls." A character who is suffering from depression is described as being "not right in the head."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink wine at home on occasion. Two characters order cocktails over their lunch. A parent drinks whiskey with their underage child
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Son is a heavy drama about teenage depression and the crippling effect it can have on a family, with themes around suicide, self-harm, and strong language. It stars Hugh Jackman as Peter, whose teen son, Nicholas (Zen McGrath), comes to live with him, his partner Beth (Vanessa Kirby), and their baby. Nicholas is living with mental health issues and the film examines how his parents deal with it and how difficult that can be. The film also looks at how actions and decisions have consequences. The depiction of depression is raw and unforgiving, pulling no punches in the process. The film isn't very positive, and there isn't much optimism to take away. Spoiler: There is a suicide by gunshot, which happens off-screen, though the viewer does hear it. The language is strong at times, with uses of the word "f--k," while characters are seen drinking both at home and in restaurants, including Peter drinking whiskey with the underage Nicholas. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This drama from playwright turned film director Florian Zeller packs a quite striking emotional punch. Given the nature of the material The Son is a moving and powerful film that will leave you feeling almost breathless at times, trying to process what's happening in front of your eyes. Though a question remains; when a film is covering such subject matter, is it a real feat to be emotional or does that simply come with the territory? With that in mind, judging just how good a job Zeller has done is tricky, and it's fair to say this doesn't feel as well-rounded a piece as his preceding endeavor, The Father.
The film does take an interesting look at depression though, focusing on the illness from an outside perspective, as somebody who wants to help but can't. The film can be accused of perhaps shifting a little too much blame on to the parents, pointing the finger at decisions they made, which while wrong, came from a place of love. Either way, it's a movie that will provoke and start conversations, and that's always a good thing. Lastly, while performances are strong, Zen McGrath as the titular character does struggle with the heavier scenes at times. Although in fairness, even some of the best in the business would have a tough time with the complexity of this character.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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