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Parents' Guide to

The Son

By Stefan Pape, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Moving drama about mental illness has themes around suicide.

Movie PG-13 2022 123 minutes
The Son movie poser

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 6+

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age 15+

The Son- A Challenge

This production has its unfair share of predictable criticisms, but most of them show a shallow interpretation. As if this hugely complex theme can be summed up by superficial observances. It's impossible to put everyone in a box, with a neat label when we all have such different experiences of growing to maturity. This story, no matter how it’s analyzed, is head and shoulders above so many of the last two years’ offerings. Sincere performances by all carry it through any possible shaky situations, with heartrendingly accurate interpretations - regardless of perhaps a little manipulation (that is, if it can even be called that...?) Is it perhaps too slick for certain critics to take seriously (might this be part of it for some?) While it could be a theme some people might choose not to see, perhaps more should see it. There are certain sequences so painstakingly played that it looks as if they might fall over, but these professional performers carry the emotional impact to surprising effect. Young Australian performer Zen McGrath is impressive in the difficult role of the son struggling with depression. For some members of the cast, this will be the second phase in their screen careers, but they prove totally up for it. And when in the hands of a master writer/director like Florien Zeller (The Father ‘17), not a great deal can go too far wrong. Award-winning British cinematographer Ben Smithard (Goodbye Christopher Robin ’17) is at hand to create the dazzling imagery, with veteran Hans Zimmer (The Lion King) adding the effective music score. If nit-picking, I might wonder if the visual device featuring the washing machine fully worked (?) Otherwise, a moving and professional experience for mature audiences.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (2 ):

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.

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