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Harry Dean Stanton,
A married couple are faced with a difficult decision - to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer's disease.
Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
Olivier - meticulous, careful, even-handed - teaches carpentry at a vocational school in Liège. He's asked to take on Francis, 16, a new student. He declines the request then begins to watch, even spy on, the new lad. Olivier knows something. Later that day, he's visited by Magali, his ex-wife, who tells him that she's remarrying and is pregnant. Olivier seems to follow instinctive responses: "why today?" he demands of Magali; he continues to follow Francis; he changes his mind about enrolling the youth. What's the history between the two? After that becomes clear, what is it Olivier will do? Is this precise and measured carpenter in control of himself? Written by
The directors of 'The Son', brothers Jeane-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, are together experienced documentarians. This is made explicitly clear in the film's style, which affords the camera the rare opportunity in modern cinema to see rather than show. The difference is immense. Renoir, Ozu and Rossellini understood the difference, and now the Dardennes can be added to that illustrious list.
The Dardenne brothers are masters of exploding the minutiae of everyday life to beautiful, poetic proportions. Their films are largely concerned with observing people at work (see also Rosetta and La Promesse), obsessively detailing the intricate structures and routines of the mundane, the everyday. Hitchcock famously described film as life with the boring bits removed; a Dardenne film is life with the boring bits dissected, investigated and ultimately celebrated.
The film is about all the sons - the sons that were, the sons that are and the sons that will be - and all should see it.
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