Film Fest Day Three
THE SON (LE FILS)
Okay, now I’ve seen a brilliant film. You hope that something in a festival is going to come along and just leave you gasping, and for me, this latest by the Dardenne Brothers is masterful. I reviewed their last film, Rosetta, which equally impressed me, so I was a bit prepared for their style of filmmaking–documentary-style, rough, handheld.
The trouble is with the film is that there’s a particular twist in the plot that occurs about 30 minutes into it that precludes me from discussing the film in any depth, for I hope whoever reads this will want to seek the film out. You can, however, find some dumb reviews online that will ruin it for you, so good luck to you.
(Fortunately, Roger Ebert shares my opinion and method of writing about this film, and winds up saying some good things about it. Ebert is a populist and a media figure, but I give credence to his opinions, even when I disagree. Maybe it’s being in Chicago that does it.)
Anyway, what I can tell you about “The Son” is this: for the majority of the movie, the camera hovers around the neck and back of its protagonist, a carpenter who teaches juvenile delinquents in some sort of social program. He’s asked to admit one more kid, but brushes the assistant off, saying he has no room. He then paces, anxiously, and seems intent on spying on the kid (who we have still yet to see). For about twenty minutes many scenes follow like this, with nothing explained. In fact, nothing seems to be happening at all. He gets a visit from his estranged wife. He does some situps. He paces some more. Sometimes he’s at home. Sometimes he’s at work. And all along the camera is on him like a hunted animal–you have to crane your neck to see the background sometimes, he’s so close.
But then one line of dialog changes the entire point of the film. You realize that what seemed pointless, even strange activity, now has a purpose, as does the camerawork. It took my breath away, and from then on The Son becomes suspenseful and completely involving.
The symbolism, too, sneaks up on you, from what seems like ordinary surroundings. This too I can’t really speak about as I’d give some more away. So, er, I really recommend it.
The audience left much to be desired, made up of people whose jaded nature was only matched by their ignorance. “That’s it?” someone said at the admittedly abrupt ending. Others then chimed in: “That’s it? Will there be a sequel?” and other such stoooopidity. What is with these people? Even the multiplex crowd aren’t like this.
Film Fest Day Three