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The Son

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Son

from Film Forum, 03/13/03

The Son (New Yorker Films) is the new film from brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who brought us the Cannes award-winning Rosetta a few years ago. While you are unlikely to find television commercials for the film—it comes from Belgium, after all—those who have seen it give much higher praise than anything in the multiplex.

Olivier Gourmet turns in a performance that won him the Cannes Film Festival's award for Best Actor. He plays a carpenter and teacher named Olivier who has some peculiar voyeuristic habits. Morgan Marinne plays a troubled 16-year-old whose relationship with Olivier is the center of the film.

J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth) encourages moviegoers to see the movie without reading reviews that give away the plot. "The element of revelation is critical to the film, and anything that gets in the way of that will ruin your enjoyment. Just as we have to wait to see what's around that wall Olivier is peaking around, just as we have to wait until the camera moves from behind his head to see Olivier's expression, so we in the audience should wait to see how these characters are connected, what strand of coincidence brings them together."

Parks concludes, "I've spent the last week thinking and re-thinking The Son. Any movie that sticks in my head like that is good enough for me, despite its flaws. Furthermore, the two lead performances are worth the price of admission, and the movie's quiet power is a wonderful contrast to the Hollywood bombast seen elsewhere. This is a movie worth going out of your way for."

The Son should open to larger audiences later this spring, and Film Forum will include more in-depth coverage when that occurs.