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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 17 April 2006
By 
David Welsh (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
This outstanding low-budget film follows a man who teaches teenage boys carpentry in a vocational high school. A new pupil arrives who, unbeknown to the boy himself, has had a profoundly destructive effect on the man's life some years in the past. As a friendship gradually forms between them, both characters must eventually come to terms with their past. The camerawork is fascinating, the acting outstanding and the simple, disturbing plot is utterly compelling. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary with a bit of weight to it, give this film a go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A replacement of sorts, 26 Jun 2009
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
The Son seems at times like an apprentice carpentry video.The tutor is a man whose face you never fully see or you see it side-on looking at the trainee's work efforts.He's quite tough and exacting but fair.He rejects then seemingly pursues and takes an interest in Francis the young man who's just been released from a penal institution,he says for theft,but there's a lot more to his crime than that.Olivier is a restless
pushy,easily annoyed sort of person.The carpentry seems of a certain
standard.It's a bit like watching non professional actors who've got a certain technical competence at what they do and have been given achance to act.What makes them very watchable is the secret drama that's taking place.There is a brash,energetic delivery to the film which makes it eminently watchable.I found Olivier's performance remarkable.The film on a lower level than Rosetta and The Promise in The Dardennes brothers
films.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parallel agonies., 4 Feb 2006
This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
A film which explores concurrent themes of cruelty and compassion, revenge and forgiveness. It will break your heart. To be watched alone, more than twice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerful, spare filmmaking, 15 July 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
The Son is one of the very best films by the Dardenne brothers, and it goes like an arrow from start to finish. It tells the story of a carpentry teacher who helps to rehabilitate young offenders, who finds himself training the boy who killed his son. (This fact is given early on and is in the product description.) The film is moral in the very best sense, in that it makes you feel the desirability of forgiveness without stinting on the difficulty of giving it. It is never sentimental, and concentrates a lot on physical work, to the point where you sometimes wonder what a sequence is adding to what we already know, but then a seemingly simple question suddenly gives a jolt to the tone. You never quite know what the man may do, or what the boy, Francis, who is about 16, is thinking, but you can't help feeling sorry for him at quite a lot of points, on the evidence of what we've seen. Normally the relationship between the figures could be a father and son, or a teacher and pupil - here Francis asks if he'll be his guardian - and early on you even wonder whether he might have a sexual interest in the boy. Equally he looms over him from behind in the warehouse repeatedly, which could primarily suggest imminent violence, or again could seem a prelude to sexual attack. There is almost no verbal discourse about feelings, yet the circumstances give a riveting sense of intimacy in themselves, even if a very uneasy one. All the nuances of gesture and action build to an unusual degree of resonance, profoundly humanist, and make it one of the most moving films to have appeared since 2000 - in the end the courage of the lead (the superb Olivier Gourmet) is inspiring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, French, Mystery Type Film, 9 May 2013
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
This is a film from 2002 made in France and originally released as `Le Fils'. It tells the story of Olivier (Olivier Gourmet - great name that) who teaches carpentry at a centre for wayward youths, including young offenders. He has a bad back a failed marriage and a past that still haunts his present day.

Then he is asked to teach a young boy, Francis, who is straight out of the detention centre. He refuses at first, but after reading his file he changes his mind. He clearly has a keen interest in this boy and it is reciprocated by the youth. Then we find out why he is so interested and it becomes a complete game changer.

So is it any good? Well as ever that depends upon the viewer, this is not `art house' it is filmed in real time, no music, minimal lighting and real locations. They even use a steady hand cam for most of the filming. Because of the use of real locations, there is often a feeling approaching claustrophobic and lends itself to docudrama. This is fine as it adds to the realism but from a viewing perspective actually can detract from being engaging. However, this there is a web being spun and the more it is woven the more the intrigue builds. I found myself constantly trying to double guess how it would end and getting it mostly wrong, so that is a good thing.

The acting is all superb and the production is almost unnoticeable as that was what was being aimed for, so nothing to criticise on that front. This will not be for everyone, but has generally received very positive reviews indeed, I would recommend to viewers who are open to European cinema in all its varying shades as this does deal with some `dark' issues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of ...new beginnings?, 1 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
It's not easy to describe this film adequately. Perhaps the reason is that it's underacted; a story told by intimation, not by explanation. The relationship between a man whose son has died and a teenager who had no fathering is subtly developed - no, rather it is portrayed in process - as the choice of the one opens the door to forgiveness for the other. It's more like one chapter in a book whose start and whose ending we do not know, but the part we are given is familiar to us. We are all in process. And when someone who has been badly hurt is yet willing to hope a little in someone who gave them reason to hate, well, redemption can indeed occur ...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional film, 15 Aug 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This movie is absolutely first-rate. Please be aware that elements of the plot are discussed. A carpentry teacher at a vocational training center for troubled teens agrees to take into his class a 16 year old who has spent four years in detention for a serious crime. The teacher is honest and fair, but also withdrawn and emotionless. His young son had been killed and his marriage has crumbled. His wife has divorced him and is remarrying. He lives by himself. From the start he takes an eery, almost obsessive interest in the teen. This isn't much of a spoiler since you learn the following within 30 minutes of the film: The teen was the one who had killed the teacher's son in a botched car break-in four years earlier. The teen doesn't know the teacher is the father or that the teacher knows he killed the son.

There is not a speck of melodrama in the film. Olivier Gourmet who plays the teacher is phenomenal. He's in every scene. He plays the emotionally shipwrecked father with great depth. There are no smiles, no frowns, no anger. You're never quite sure what retribution might happen. The ending is quiet and powerful.

For those interested in the craft of film-making, there are two lengthy, excellent interviews with the Dardenne brothers and with Olivier Gourmet. The DVD transfer is excellent; the subtitles are quite readable. There isn't a great deal of dialogue in the film, so reading the subtitles is no bother.

If you like serious films, this one is a keeper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 6 Mar 2013
By 
Peter Bowes "Joggerpete" (UK - Essex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
Im not an expert on French films but this was a very compelling film, I love it.

Very well made with that excellent less is more French film making.

Try it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Film, 17 Feb 2013
By 
London (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
A very good film about a man who teaches in a rehabilitation centre for released youth crime convicts - who realises that he knows the history of one new lad who joins. It deals with the issues of revenge and coming to terms with issues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars sublime, 4 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Son [DVD] (DVD)
The Dardenne Brothers are masters of their craft. This film is amongst their greatest work and gets better with repeated viewing. If you like films that resonate and stay with you then this is a film you must watch. If you are at all unsure about purchasing this film then google Roger Eberts review of The Son. Sublime. Highly recommended.
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The Son [DVD]
The Son [DVD] by Jean-Pierre Dardenne (DVD - 2003)
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