‘The Son’ Ending, Explained – Hugh Jackman Stars in Year’s Cruelest Movie

When I looked The Father in 2020, I was amazed. The film, about a man named Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and his strained relationship with his daughter (Olivia Colman), was an authentic portrait of what it is like to face a difficult disease emotionally. Movies about Alzheimer’s tend to focus on the perspective of the sufferer, but The Father dared to tell how the people around them also suffer.

The film was the accomplished debut of writer-director Florian Zeller, who adapted his own work to brilliant effect. The film garnered six Academy Award nominations, winning two: one for best screenplay and one for best actor (for Hopkins). It’s an impressive advance for a first film, but not surprising, based on how well the film explored Anthony’s interiority. Through his masterful handling of diegetic space and storytelling, Zeller immediately rose to the top of my radar and I awaited his next project with great anticipation.

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That next project is here, and it is The Son, also based on one of Zeller’s plays. (The Holy Spirit The film follows Nicholas (Zen McGrath), a 17-year-old boy who feels he can no longer live with his mother Kate (Laura Dern). He seeks refuge from his inner turmoil by moving in with his father Peter (Hugh Jackman), a successful businessman, Peter’s new partner, Beth (Vanessa Kirby), and their young son. But Beth meets Nicholas with suspicion, and Peter gets an important new job opportunity, so he barely gives his son the time of day.

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But Peter has to start paying attention, as Nicholas is in crisis. It turns out that he hasn’t been to school in a month, which surprises both Kate and Peter. In a moment between Nicholas and his father, he makes his pain clear, saying: “I don’t know what’s happening to me.” It’s clear that their son needs help that neither of them can provide, or rather, it’s clear to everyone watching the film, but this shockingly obvious fact seems to elude both parents for some time.

It pains me to say that The Son it’s not just a disappointing follow-up The Father. It’s also a terrible, irresponsible movie. The real problem is their fatal misunderstanding of mental illness: it’s as if every line is read straight from a pamphlet called “How no to talk about mental health”. All of this manifests itself in the film’s horrific ending. If for some reason you still feel like watching The Son—and I wouldn’t blame you; You were excited once, now it’s time to leave, because a whole bunch of spoilers are coming your way. (I’m not entirely sure you can screw up a movie like The Sonthat he telegraphs his every move, but hey, I can understand not wanting to know the ending before seeing it.)

Rekha Garton/Sony Pictures Classics

Things got progressively worse throughout the film—for Nicholas, for his parents, and, frankly, for everyone watching—and every moment it seems like things are going to get better, they end up getting worse. One moment, Nicholas is happily dancing with his father and Beth, and seconds later, Peter and Beth are embracing and completely forgetting that Nicholas is even there. Another scene finds Nicholas offering to babysit his baby half-brother, only for Beth to freak out at the mere thought of a “weird” like Nicholas taking care of her son. This constant, and I mean constant, cycle of picking Nicholas up and letting him down makes the film’s conclusion all the more obvious.

After all the mistakes and missteps his parents make that would feel right at home in an after school special, Nicholas finally tries to take his own life. Fortunately they found him in time and Nicholas’ parents decide to put him in intensive psychiatric care. Well, it’s not so much that they decide to get Nicolás the help he needs; it’s more that a doctor forces their hand to do it, and they agree.

Finally, there is a sense of peace. It seems that with Nicholas out for treatment, Kate, Peter and Beth can finally live their lives without the burden of their depressed son. That’s a pretty scary feeling, and my skin crawls even writing those words. But The Son it is not the masterclass of sentimentality and understanding it so clearly thinks it is. His self-importance and blunt punctuation hangs over his head, so it’s hard to seem sincere. (Hans Zimmer, you betrayed me.) What the movie really seems to be saying is that without a problem like Nicholas (ugh), these people can get on with their lives (ick).

The most decisive scene comes later, when Kate and Peter meet the doctor in charge of Nicholas’s care. He is stern but professional, warning them that when they momentarily reintroduce it to their son, he will immediately beg and plead to be taken home. The doctor explains that he has seen this repeatedly and that it is imperative that the patient remains under hospital care. The doctor couldn’t be more clear: allow Nicholas to come home, and it’s almost certain that he’ll try to take his own life again.

What follows is a lot of screaming and crying as Nicholas does exactly what the doctor says he will do. This could (and actually does should) to be a very emotional scene, but it all feels so hollow. The movie has made it clear time and time again that Nicholas doesn’t care, and frankly, neither do his parents. They think so, but they are so invested in themselves and their own lives that they see past it. Nicholas pleads and pleads with people who seem completely devastated; it’s deeply unpleasant and annoying, considering we watched the movie torture him without repercussions. Worse, it’s clear that what we’re seeing is acting, in more ways than one.

Ultimately, Kate and Peter do something right: they listen to the doctor and refuse to take Nicholas home. It’s a hard decision for a parent to make, but they do it because they know it’s going to be better in the long run. Or so you would think. Moments later, they’re sitting in a car on their way home, ridiculous music playing as they share a look that tells you all you need to know: these irresponsible people will continue to be irresponsible.

Rekha Garton/Sony Pictures Classics

Soon after, Nicholas returns home to his parents. Beth has taken the baby to visit her parents, so it’s just Kate, Peter and Nicholas again, the family unit she longed for but no longer has. There is a moment of serenity as the three of them talk to each other and Nicholas goes on a long monologue about how much he loves his family. It should feel touching, but the movie did nothing to show that it cares about Nicholas, so it’s just one of many moments to remind you that The Son is based on a play.

Literally moments after his parents mention that they shouldn’t let him out of their sight, Nicholas leaves to take a shower by himself, which he’s apparently totally fine with and doesn’t worry them in the slightest about. It’s a red flag the size of North America, but Kate and Peter are too invested in themselves and each other to notice. There’s an eerie calm as the two talk about going to the movies as a family, but it’s quickly pierced by the sudden blast of a rifle.

I’m going to back up for a second. Peter has a rifle in his apartment that was a gift from his father. The fact that she never thought to take the gun out of the house she was bringing her suicidal and at-risk son back to tells you all you need to know. Finally, everyone The SonThe worst Chekhovian instincts paid off.

You’d think the movie would end there, but you’d be wrong. We then cut to the future, some years later, where Peter has a long conversation with Nicholas. Nicholas talks about how he’s so happy now: he found the love of his life and moved to Toronto, which makes him happier than New York City. (As a Canadian, this is the only thing that rings true in the entire movie. Sorry.) Nicholas even wrote a book, which he dedicates to his father.

Society has evolved far beyond The Son’s understanding of mental health.

This is, of course, complete fantasy. Nicholas is dead, and no good wishes can bring him back. In the real world, Peter is heartbroken, while Beth comes to comfort him. The Son he is so committed to his callousness and tone-deafness that the man who ignored his son’s endless pleas for help, even taking them as a kind of personal affront, would think that his son would ever dedicate a book to him. It’s a moment that completely robs Nicholas of any agency, making it all about Peter and his experience with his son’s mental illness. Pedro is the one who really had to suffer, after all, having a depressed son. It is despicable.

The root of the problem is that the film, like Kate and Peter, consistently neglects Nicholas. The Son he’s much more invested in his parents, especially Peter and Beth, and how they constantly fail their son by not understanding him, ignoring him, or blaming him for his own sadness, without holding them accountable for these actions. In one particularly heated moment (judging by the context, it’s supposed to be extremely dramatic with a capital D) Peter yells at Nicholas, “When you hurt yourself, it’s like you hurt me.” seriously Maybe this would have flown five or even 10 years ago, but society evolved a long time ago The Sonunderstanding of mental health.

The Son it could have been an effective showcase of how insensitivity and lack of understanding can lead to avoidable tragedies. Maybe that should be it. Instead, Florian Zeller forces us to sit through this harrowing, grotesque, emotional and cruel story. It’s a film with such self-importance that it completely forgets about the most important character, and he’s right in the title. The Son it’s a disgrace, an affront to those with mental health issues, and a dramatically inept story that relies on overpowering musical scores, dull staging, and wooden acting to bring its comically out-of-place script to some semblance of life. This is the worst movie and the worst ending of 2022.


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