- BOTTOM LINE
An intriguingly layered thriller
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Thriller|
What Is the Story About?
Lorenzo, an eccentric bohemian artist and his Norweigan biologist wife Sigrid are expecting a child soon. A naturalist by belief, Sigrid opts for a home-bound delivery with help from her long-time nanny. The artist despite being unhappy at her decision lets time take its course. An air of mystery clouds the birth of their child as they become parents to a baby boy Henrik. On the other end, Lorenzo’s friends Renato and Julieta are leaving no stone unturned to become parents despite several unsuccessful fertility treatments.
Sigrid’s stubbornness to not let the child be exposed to the world concerns Lorenzo and as a result, their relationship goes down the hill. A case of domestic violence is upon Lorenzo and his life in doldrums; the only ray of hope seems to be his attorney friend Julieta. He will still do anything to protect his child. Where will this lead him to?
Joaquín Furriel as Lorenzo gets a superb character that has so many crests and troughs to exploit the best out of an actor. Joaquín may not look as old as his character demands him to be, but he never strikes a false note in his performance. He looks every bit the artist that he plays, dreaming and breathing of colours, patterns day after day and portraying the emotional trauma of a troubled father with notable poise. An equally layered role is that of Martina Gusman’s (as Julieta) – a painter-turned-attorney, a former lover of the protagonist (married to his friend) and a troubled woman who isn’t able to conceive. Martina has a wonderful screen-presence and her on-screen camaraderie with Joaquín, standing by his thick and thin, is as natural as it gets.
The best part about ‘The Son‘ is its understated quality – the writing, the dialogues, and the visuals are minimalistic and effective. The film never blurts things out in the open, says a lot through its visual metaphors, urges its spectator to interpret what they see and connect the dots later. The plot is kept fairly simple, but the narrative demands one’s rapt attention. There aren’t any uncalled-for distractions and the tension is sustained through the 90 minutes – pretty much every element that could feature in a checklist of a thriller-enthusiast. The film takes its own sweet time to establish its premise but ends with a lump in your throat.
The artworks of the lead protagonist go a long way in adding an interesting visual texture to the narrative. A painting in the earlier part of the film shows a motif of a monster eating up a child. Later, the artist expresses his angst in being unable to protect his child through his art – these are wonderful devices to convey emotion instead of heightened dialogues or drama. Even in building Sigrid’s character, the director keeps throwing consistent hints of her eccentricity and anxiety about her unborn child through the conversations with her husband and the medicos.
The non-linear narrative is an apt strategy to go for a story of such mysterious quality – you don’t know the basis behind each character and the mystery keeps haunting you till the end. The storyteller compounds the confusion of the viewer through the medical condition (Capgras syndrome) and the shady marital past of the protagonist. The ambiguity surrounding the identity of the child and a father being unable to identify his son – creates several moments of intrigue.
The director prefers to show ‘how’s instead of the ‘why’s to every incident. For instance, we never know why the biologist is insistent on keeping the child unexposed to the world and guards him against his father. There are multiple dimensions and layers, but there’s also a lot to savour even in case a viewer looks at the story purely on a surface-level, spare the morose start. The Son requires a fair bit of patience to suck you into its eerie world.
The casting in the film is one of its clinical strengths – not a single actor looks out of place through the viewing experience. Heidi Toini’s role as Sigrid may not be among the best-written ones in the film, yet she lends a double-edged quality to her act. A big chunk of her character is left for interpretation, so there are chances of you feeling it too abstract/creepy to digest. Luciano Cáceres as a good intentioned-friend of the protagonist and a partner of Julieta has a simple, straightforward role that he sleepwalks rather easily. Regina Lamm in the shoes of a nanny makes her presence felt in a brief yet impacting part.
Music and Other Departments?
The sound design of the film provides the right atmosphere for a thriller. From the crackling of glass to the opening of a window to the sound of the strokes as the protagonist paints and the deafening silence in critical moments, it’s difficult to imagine the impact of this film without its sound. The cinematography is apt for the backdrop, the change of colour-tones in sync with the situation of its lead character is an aspect to watch out for. The writing gets over-metaphoric at times. It gets tiring to spot the nuances in every situation to understand the story. The Son deserved more elaboration at times that could have provided a spine-chilling impact (even better than what it does now).
Overdose of visual metaphors in the story
The characterisation of Sigrid
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur