The Son

The Son

4.0 out of 54.0 out of 54.0 out of 54.0 out of 5 4.0

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The latest film by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is not without allegorical implications. Cannes prize-winner and Dardenne mascot Olivier Gourmet stars as a bereft carpenter who develops a sudden fascination for his young apprentice. As mirror reflection of Gourmet’s inner turmoil, the Dardennes’ camerawork isn’t as assaultive as it was in Rosetta, but it’s equally demanding. Their camera contributes to the film’s near cosmic state of grace. The nature of the film’s relationships are revealed without fanfare, and as such part of the film’s mystique is learning that Magali (Isabella Soupart) is not some pregnant stranger but Olivier’s estranged wife. Forty minutes in, the Dardennes offer a context for Olivier’s strange attraction to the young Francis (Morgan Marinne): Some five years earlier, the teenager strangled Olivier’s son while attempting to steal a radio from the carpenter’s car. The Son or, more accurately, How Joseph Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Judas Iscariot, has been seemingly pieced together from similar confessions. As allegory, The Son is a testament to Christian forgiveness. While far from heavy-handed, the film’s metaphors are still unavoidable: Magdali-as-Magdalene, her Wednesday declaration (Lent anyone?), and the many panels of wood Oliver is forced to carry (like Jesus, on his way to Calvary). Most astounding, Olivier’s remarkable ability to judge the metric distance between any two points fascinatingly alludes to the character’s moral precision. Our willingness to submit to the film’s grueling element of fear is then perhaps a test of our spiritual skepticism. Despite the film’s overwhelming bleakness, its Bressonian rapture is unmistakable.

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DVD
Distributor
New Yorker Films
Runtime
103 min
Rating
NR
Year
2002
Director
Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Screenwriter
Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Cast
Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Isabella Soupart