La Presse at the 79th Venice Film Festival | After the “Father”, an equally touching “Son”


After The fatherproposes the French playwright Florian Zeller Son, another film adaptation of one of his plays, which he directs. And it is a success.

Posted at 16:00 yesterday

Marc-André Lussier

Marc-André Lussier
The print

It happened thanks to an email written two years ago. Hugh Jackman was the sender, Florian Zeller the recipient. The actor had been so overwhelmed just by reading the play Son who took the initiative to write to the playwright to show him his immense interest. In case the role of the father in the next film adaptation is not yet assigned to a specific actor, the Wolverine interpreter was already ready.

“It was like fire in the stomach,” Hugh Jackman said at a news conference. It happens very rarely in the life of an actor to instinctively know that a role is intended for us at a specific time in our life. When Florian offered me the role, he was a great relief! “


Zen McGrath, Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman inside Sona film by Florian Zeller

“Due to the pandemic, our first meeting was underway EnlargeFlorian Zeller added. I hadn’t yet thought about the actor playing the role of the father and at this stage I wasn’t even going to really think about it. But after eight minutes of talking, I offered the part to Hugh! ”

An existential evil

First created on stage in Paris, with Yvan Attal in the role of the father, the comedy Sonwhich will be staged later this month at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert (directed by René Richard Cyr), this time tells how a father tries to help his son, a 17-year-old teenager, struggling with a chronic existential disease.

How The fatherwhich was also an adaptation of one of his works, Florian Zeller manages Son making cinematic a story whose theatrical origin remains evident. Transporting the story of his comedy to New York, the French author, who still collaborates with British playwright Christopher Hampton on his adaptations in the Shakespearean language, also echoes another mood on a social and political level. .

Surrounded by the excellent Laura Dern (the mother) and Vanessa Kirby (the new wife), Hugh Jackman (the father) and Zen McGrath (the son) offer touching performances. One no longer knows how to adequately help the one who, however, apparently shows encouraging signs, the other is completely powerless in the face of his own anguish.

Two memorable scenes

Beyond the themes explored in this story, we recall two scenes in particular. The first involves Anthony Hopkins. The Oscar winner in 2021 (thanks to The father) appears only in a scene in Son, what a scene! Opposite Hugh Jackman, the famous actor is just great. And then there’s the heartbreaking one where parents are called upon to make a decision that will one way or another change their child’s fate.

“This movie really shows how people tend to isolate themselves when it comes to mental health,” said Hugh Jackman. There is the shame, the guilt, the feeling that you can fix things on your own. But realizing your helplessness and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can help you understand and empathize with those around us. I sincerely hope so Son it will generate discussion. ”

The actor also indicates that this film had a very strong impact on his own life, on his relationship with his children.

“For many years the role of a parent has been to appear strong and reliable, to never worry and not be a burden to their children. My approach definitely changed after the shoot Son. I now share more of my vulnerabilities with my 17 and 22 year olds. And I feel their relief when I do. ”

Released in Quebec by Entract Films, Sonrunning for the Golden Lion, will be released on November 18th.


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