The Son (2002)–Review

Les Fils
Dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
103 minutes

Reid Said: July 3, 2004 at 2:10 pm

I just watched The Son (6 out of 10), which is a movie that got a score of 90 at the metacritic site. (There are some serious rave reviews about this film.) I was pretty underwhelmed by the film, although I was really tired when watching it, but reading some of the reviews makes me wonder if I should watch it again.

I will not say anything about the plot of the film (which you should know as little as possible about), but it was a very slow and methodical film. To me, the slowness (one critic described it as “sensory deprivation”) wasn’t effective for me. I don’t mind slow films, as long as something is going on: the visual aspects could be really interesting (as in Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice) or maybe the actor’s behavior and facial expressions are revealing important transformations and inner workings. There was very little of that in this film.

I believe the lead actor won the best performance award at Canne that year (2003, btw), but his performance just didn’t move me. This is the type of quiet and subtle film and performance where the audience is either moved or they’re not. Quiet and subtle performances leave some people feeling profoundly moved and others bored out of their mind. It’s probably very subjective. Think of a film like In the Bedroom. I can see some viewers thinking nothing is really happening in the movie, but the performances in that film was so outstanding, albeit in a subtle way.

Well, I was not very moved, although you might be. There are some other similiarities with In the Bedroom which I won’t mention here.

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