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Encountering oneself becoming like the father one hated toward his son

Encountering oneself becoming like the father one hated toward his son

Posted July. 12, 2023 07:59,   

Updated July. 12, 2023 07:59


My son’s gaze, whom I raised like my other half, feels distant now. His bright smile, which used to enrich my day just by looking at it is nowhere to be found. He cries out that life is drowning him. Despite the best effort he has put in, the father is clueless about what went wrong or what he can do to help his child. The son is lost, and the parents have no option but to watch him helplessly.

The movie "The Son," which will be released next Wednesday, features a teenage son struggling with depression and his parents. Hugh Jackman, who played Peter the father in the film, was nominated for the best actor for the 80th Golden Globe Awards held last January.

Peter is a successful lawyer in New York. He has a big mansion and a beautiful wife raising a newborn with him. He is well recognized at work and even sought after by political circles.

His seemingly perfect life gets shaken when his teenage son Nicholas (played by Zen McGrath), who has been living with his ex-wife, gets into trouble. Though leaving home for school, he has been missing classes for two months, wandering about a nearby park. Nicholas starts living with his dad instead of his mom (played by Laura Dern), but the situation only gets worse. Peter sometimes scolds his son, who seemingly did not suffer while growing up, and tries to understand his son's feelings at other times. However, all Peter gets from his son is resentment for his decision to divorce. Peter had a traumatized childhood with his father, who only sought success and abandoned his family. Mindful of this, Peter tries to be a good father toward Nicholas but helplessly collapses, feeling like he failed.

Hugh Jackman showed an outstanding performance as a father who felt perplexed and helpless when faced with his child suffering from depression. Jackman reportedly sent an e-mail to Florian Zeller, who directed the movie, that he wanted the role.

The Son is directed by Zeller, who also wrote the script for the movie as a playwright as the second piece of his "family trilogy." He released the first piece, "The Father," in 2021, depicting a relationship between a father with dementia and his daughter. Anthony Hopkins, who played the father in the motion picture, won an Oscar for the best lead actor for the role. "The Mother,” which will be the last piece of the trilogy, is yet to be made into a film. Zeller noted that the movie "The Son" is about guilt, family bond, and ultimately love. He further explained he wanted to expand the scope of discourse about mental illness.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com