“The look in his eye is disturbing.” What did “The Son” do?
That line is uttered by Vanessa Kirby, who plays the stepmother to a teenager dealing with psychological troubles in “The Son.” While the first trailer tells us little, it’s clear we are in the territory of a dark family drama about demons, trauma, and mental illness.
French playwright turned Oscar-winning screenwriter Florian Zeller returns to the stage trilogy he first adapted to the screen with 2020’s “The Father” for “The Son.” The Sony Pictures Classics drama is expected to shake up the awards race with bows in Venice and Toronto.
As with “The Father,” “The Son” finds a family grappling with the past as 17-year-old Nicholas (breakout star Zen McGrath) moves in with his father Peter (Hugh Jackman) two years after a bitter divorce from Kate (Laura Dern), with whom Nicholas no longer feels safe living. But Peter is now living with Beth (Vanessa Kirby) and a new baby, and things come to a head when Peter is offered a dream job in Washington and buried mistakes of yesteryear resurface.
Zeller also reunites with Anthony Hopkins, the Best Actor winner for “The Father” last year, for this drama about a teenager in the throes of a mental health crisis. Zeller co-wrote the script with British playwright Christopher Hampton, also an Oscar-winning co-writer on “The Father.” That film took an almost Lynchian approach to realizing the subjective experience of dementia through Hopkins’ eyes; expect “The Son” to be an equally unsettling chamber experience set in tight spaces.
There’s already Oscar buzz for Jackman, only nominated once before for 2012’s “Les Misérables,” as well as Vanessa Kirby, who earned her first Best Actress nomination for a grieving woman in freefall after a stillbirth in 2020’s “Pieces of a Woman.” Dern is a previous winner for Best Supporting Actress for “Marriage Story.” Of course, we have to see the movie first, but it’s riding into awards and fall festival season on a serious pedigree of achievement.
Sony Pictures Classics opens “The Son” in limited release on November 11 following its festival premieres.