Directed by Florian Zeller, with a screenplay written by himself and Christopher Hampton. Based on "Le Fils" by Florian Zeller the cast is made up of Hugh Jackman, Vanessa Kirby, Zen Mcgrath, Laura Den, and Anthony Hopkins. The movie won the nominations of two Volpi Cups, a Golden Lion, and a Golden Glob.
It was hard to go to sleep after watching it, and I did not feel good the day after either. Not because it was not a good movie; on the contrary, it was an extremely good and terrific movie!
I recently wrote an article about an Italian movie called "The Ties" (2020), and it also talks about broken families.
But this movie in particular reminded me a lot of myself and my own family history. Let’s focus on the movie and not so much on my life.
This is the story of a teenage boy, the son of divorced parents, one of many, just like myself. His father, Peter Miller, had another baby son with his second wife, Beth, and they now live together in a new home.
Nicholas was left to live with his mother, Laura Dern, but they are both very unhappy about the fact that the family ended tragically after a betrayal.
The movie starts with the mother of Nicholas visiting her ex-husband, Peter, to warn him about the fact that their son has not been to school for the past two months. A red flag starts going off about his well-being and what is going on in his secret life.
He does not speak much about his feeling to his parents, but he expresses a sudden desire to go and live with his dad and his new family, as he does not get along at all with his mother… Like it often happens in these situations.
The mother is often the one to be blamed when the man of the home leaves and goes off to create a new family with a new wife and start over.
The young teenager Nicholas is obviously suffering a great deal from his parents’ divorce and starts developing self-harming mechanism, such as cutting, to cope with his pain.
He also starts seeing a therapist, although in severe circumstance of mental illness, like in this case, out-patient therapy is of very little help to the patient and his family.
After changing school, he only goes to his first day, then stops attending once again. And starts walking around the city of New York and going to parks, sitting on benches and just staring in the nothingness around him.
Throughout the whole movie, you can see how much this young boy is suffering and how deeply he’s hurting inside.
Sometimes he cries, sometimes he gets angry, and sometimes he also expresses his pain through irrational thinking and negative affirmations.
I won’t spoil the movie for you, because it is a must-watch—one of those movies, absolutely! Even if it’s shocking and deadly terrifying in its truth about these types of life matters,
Nicholas has no friends what so ever, and he’s always alone. He struggles to communicate verbally, but his eyes and his body language speak a lot about that invisible pain that no one sees, but some of us know what it is like to feel it.
Sometimes we see the young teenager getting close to the toys of his baby brother. His father’s new wife Beth is afraid of Nicholas, she sees he’s disturbed and "not well in the head," as she states during the movie. Therefore, she does not want her child to be alone with her stepson.
Nichola’s parents are always busy working and don’t have much time to dedicate to him and his needs as a suffering and painful teenager. They even threatened to send him off to boarding school. Without even realising at a single glance at him, that he’s sick and in a lot of pain.
There is always tragedy in this movie, intensity, thrill, like something bad is about to happen at any moment, but we just don't know what or when.
Eventually, after some tragic events, Nicholas is diagnosed with severe depression.
After this moment, it’s his parents' decision whether to leave him in a psychiatric facility to get the treatment he needs in order to get better or take him home with them.
In this moment, the destiny of this young boy’s life is in the hands of his parents. He can be saved, or he can be doomed for ever and ever. In these cases, there’s no turning back and undoing things, no changing facts, and no having to make radical decisions. These are times in life when a person is marked to be alive or to die.
As he’s a minor, his parents will decide what's best for him. Nicholas does not want to receive any treatment, he fights with doctors and nurses; he wants to leave the hospital. He’s yelling and screaming and wants to go home; he’s making all sorts of promises and explanations to be brought back home and out of there!
Sometimes, in these situations, the parents feel guilty, as we see in this movie, about the pain and suffering of someone whom they gave birth to but also caused pain and distress to with their wrong decisions.
I’m not saying that mental illness is caused by families or parents, but things that happen to us while growing up and becoming adults, can affect us tremendously and define the rest of our lives, in good or bad ways. Scars will be there for ever, just like good memories. Like the ones we see as flashbacks in this movie. Like when Nicholas was on holiday, as a small child, by the sea, riding on a boat, and his father taught him how to swim at the age of six.
Those are reminded of in the movie, like "the joyous days" of their lives. As the rest seems like rather a torment...
In the end, what decision will the parents make about Nicholas’ life?
Will he survive the pain of this tragic separation and abandonment and get better? Or will he die ? And be one of the many victims affected by this deadly mental illness called ‘depression.
Go watch! And find out… Enjoy all of it, from beginning until end!