The Son


The Son is Belgian brother-helmers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's follow-up to 1999's Rosetta, and it's just as enigmatic and minimalist as that controversial Palme D'Or winner. Its Christian-themed tale involves the middle-aged Olivier (Olivier Gourmet), who teaches carpentry at a centre for disadvantaged boys in an unnamed city.But why does his ex-wife (Isabella Soupart) react so aggressively when she learns that a particular teenager (Morgan Marinne) is one of his pupils? And why does Olivier take this trainee to a deserted saw mill?

The Dardennes have no truck whatsoever with melodrama or sentimentality. There's no music on the soundtrack, and it's the characters' gestures, rather than their dialogue, which prove most revealing. The shooting style, meanwhile, is claustrophobic and disorientating, with the handheld camera doggedly following Gourmet's stolid figure, framing his bulky physique within a series of confined spaces. Hardly comfortable viewing then, but if you're willing to meet the Dardennes' visual challenge it's rewarding.

Film Details

  • 12A
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: March 14th 2003

User Reviews

    • BarnabyTFV

      Jan 12th 2009, 10:37


      This understated French drama about human emotions comes from the accomplished film-making brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and looks at what a father might do if he was to meet the boy that killed his son. What Olivier does, however, is probably not the expected reaction. As a middle-aged carpenter, he trains up young teenage boys, teaching the the skills and knowledge they need to enter into the business. One boy who turns up at his workplace happens to be his son's killer, newly released from juvinile detention, who wants to get an aprentiship in carpentry. First puzzled at what to do, Oliviere accepts and befriends the boy, though never stepping away from his coldly unemotional way of talking. There's also the intrusive but effective handheld camera. The film has the appearance of having been filmed with a handheld camera. Now, don't panic here, this isn't an intelligent version of Cloverfield. There is nother very sea-sickening or irratically wobbly about the film technique. Just the slightly moving way of filming used in "The Son" helps us place this more within our own reality, and, as I said, manages to intrude on the characters as they go about their business. Although some parts, and even the the entire film, could be accused of being mundane, I must stress how riviting this film is. By sensible direction and a sensitive script this film is an opportunity to enjoy some of the best of foreing film making.

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