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on 27 March 2017
There should be no spoilers in this review.

Superb film and one that I would highly recommend.

If the viewer knows in advance something that is about to happen or is to be revealed, or knows the premise of a film, I think that that knowledge can often lessen the enjoyment of a film. But with “The Son” that knowledge is not quite the spoiler that it might be, and I feel that when I watch this film subsequently that knowing what is at the heart of this film will not detract from enjoying it, but just the same I will avoid giving any detail about the film or what is its premise.

But I will say that this is a superb film once again from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. I have more or less watched their films in a reverse chronological order since I first watched Cecile de France in “The Kid with a Bike”, and as always after watching one of their films, I am still thinking about “The Son” long after watching it whilst writing about it in this review.

Whilst the films of the Dardenne brother will not be to everyone’s taste, anyone who appreciates realistic cinema that doesn’t rely on computerised imagery etc should appreciate “The Son” and their (the Dardennes’s) work in general. If you’ve ever enjoyed another of their films then you should not go wrong with “The Son”,

In the extra features that came with this DVD, in two separate interviews, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and Oliver Gourmet talk about their involvment in the making of this film and about their approach to what is involved for them in work in gerneral, and they are worth looking at once (if) the film has been watched.

Olivier Goumet in the lead role is a much more experienced actor than his “co-star” in “The Son”. Gourmet won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his performance whilst Morgan Marinne – Gourmet’s co-star was nominated for Most Promising Actor (Meilleur jeune espoir masculin) at the César Awards.

This review is for the two disc DVD version – there might be other disc options available.

On the DVD’s you get:

Disc One:
“The Son” (1 hour 41 minutes)
Chapter Selection
Subtitles and Audio:
Audio: French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Optional: Dutch; English; Italian; Subtitles Off

Disc Two:
Special Features:
Interview with the Dardenne brothers (32 minutes)
Interview with Olivier Gourmet (33 minutes)
Stills Gallery (25 photographs from the making the film)
Filmographies (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Oliver Gourmet, Morgan Marinne)
Trailers (Le Fils/The Son, Rosetta, La Promesse/)
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on 17 April 2006
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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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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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2009
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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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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on 4 February 2006
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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on 4 November 2012
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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on 17 February 2013
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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on 6 March 2013
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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on 25 July 2015
An enthralling, cinematographically minimalist film which gradually reveals an absorbing narrative. This is a profound and thought provoking film.
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