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Rising Son (1990)

A factory foreman with 36 years experience becomes despondent after being laid off by his company which has just been taken over by a Japanese conglomerate and is unable to find any other ... See full summary »


John David Coles


Bill Phillips (story), Rafael Yglesias (story) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Dennehy ... Gus Robinson
Piper Laurie ... Martha Robinson
Graham Beckel ... Billy
Emily Longstreth ... Carol
Ving Rhames ... Ed
Jane Adams ... Meg Bradley
Richard Jenkins ... Tommy
Matt Damon ... Charlie Robinson
Earl Hindman ... Victor
Kevin Corrigan Kevin Corrigan ... Danny
Kathryn Roth Kathryn Roth ... Anchorwoman
Mary Nell Santacroce Mary Nell Santacroce ... Marge
Ray McKinnon ... Ken Mott
Pamela Garmon Pamela Garmon ... Marion
Jill Jane Clements ... Interviewer


A factory foreman with 36 years experience becomes despondent after being laid off by his company which has just been taken over by a Japanese conglomerate and is unable to find any other work. Meanwhile, his son uses his father's unemployment as an excuse to drop out of the pre-med program his father pressured him to enter. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




M | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 July 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'école de la vie See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Dennehy & Damon, Brilliant Father-Son Act in a Hidden Gem of a Film! Must See.
13 September 2018 | by hsolafSee all my reviews

This wonderful 1990 film, was Matt Damon's first acting appearance (He was 19. Do the math.) . As a film it's a little known and unappreciated GEM! Acting performances by the three main characters, were excellent. There's also a great supporting cast in nuanced subplots. It has an excellent script, plus the editing and cinematography are marvelous. ( Great shots of foggy lake at night at the film's end!) . Scenes end when they should, without too much belaboring or needless drama. The film's packs a punch in it's power to create heart-rending emotion. Tears comes up at some scenes that make us feel and rethink basic human relations, like father-son, husband-wife, young love, work relationships. No melodrama, not overdone. It's a poignant and honest presentation. Gus Robinson (Brian Dennehy) is an overpowering husband and dad who has worked all his life at a thankless factory job. After going up the ranks up to foreman, his company is bought by Japanese magnates, and he finds himself laid off in his 60's. Driven by insecurities and frustrated ambitions, Gus has bullied his wife and coerced his two boys into being all he couldn't achieve. At a turning point, the deeply discontent older son, a lawyer who hates his life and the fake success symbol he's become by trying to please dad, urges his brother Charlie (Matt Damon) to break free, make his own life before Dad destroys him. Charlie has his own acute identity crisis. He has secretly dropped his pre-med studies. He has love-life conflicts, feels desperate about his parent's situation , bad about the way Gus treats his submissive mom Martha (Piper Laurie) . When Gus loses his job, can't last in any other, his sense of failure and unfulfillment come to a boil. He rages internally. Gus is humiliated when Martha takes on a needed job,. He feels threatened by her new found lack of dependence. Everything peaks when Charlie dares to confront Dad with all the hard truths he's ignored. What ensues is an explosive, surprising, very upsetting climax. In crisis of rage and confrontation, how do father and son react? If you show your failed self, warts and all, will you be loved or rejected? This film reminded me somewhat of "Death of a Salesman" (Arthur Miller 's play), in which Brian Dennehy won 2 Tonys and other awards, for his masterly performance as Willy Loman, another overbearing father in conflict with his two sons and submissive wife. This film, though, is way more hopeful about human beings. I strongly recommend it.

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