The mother-son relationship is a complicated one, especially during one’s teen years. It can feel like you are screaming at a brick wall and the person on the other side is behind a soundproof barrier. But, with a little luck and work, the bridge to communication will eventually open.
In the new movie, Flora and Son, Flora (Eve Hewson) gave birth to her son, Max (Orén Kinlan) when she was seventeen. He has grown into a surly young man who disagrees with his mother on everything and runs to his father Ian’s (Jack Reynor) house.
Upon finding a used guitar, Flora hopes that it will encourage Max to talk to her. After he rejects it and her, she decides to learn how to play. After doing some online digging, she hires Los Angeles-based musician Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to instruct her.
This opens the door to a relationship with Max and a newfound passion. But will both last?
Hewson Blew Me Away
I was introduced to Eve Hewson in the Netflix miniseries Behind Her Eyes. This science fiction/romantic drama featured Hewson as a jealous wife whose husband is having an affair. Her character’s Fatal Attraction-esque arc left an imprint on me that took quite a while to fade into memory.
In Flora and Son, she starts as a frustrated parent. She desperately wants to reach her son, but most of their conversations become arguments. When Flora finds the guitar, she hopes that it will open the door to the relationship with Max she wishes she could have. What starts as a desire to connect with her son opens the door to an emotional opportunity that no one saw coming.
The Relationship Between Jeff and Flora Is Pitch Perfect
My favorite narrative within the movie is the one between Jeff and Flora. It starts as the typical student-teacher relationship. While teaching/learning the basics of the guitar, the talk starts to spread beyond the basics of learning the chords and how they mingle together. Writer/director John Carney removes the computers as the characters metaphorically converse in person, representing the change from instructor/pupil to friends.
In their own way, Jeff and Flora encourage one another. Jeff is a failed musician who has turned to teaching to pay the bills. She encourages him to put his disappointment aside and try again. On the other side of the coin, he opens her mind to new artists and uses music as a way to connect with Max. Though they are on different continents and have yet to meet in person, Jeff and Flora understand each other’s challenges.
Orén Kinlan Is a Young Actor to Watch
If there is one character who changes the most, it is Max. He starts as a typical teenager. Brooding, angry, and emotionally distant from his mother, their typical form of communication is a verbal brawl. He has also developed a reputation with local law enforcement, adding stress to their already brittle relationship. It is only when they start to play together that the barriers fade. Through that common language, Max begins to open up to Flora about his inner struggles.
Kinlan’s approach to Max is a nuanced one. Instead of rebelling for the sake of rebellion, he is motivated by emotions and experiences that he is only beginning to explore. He also makes stupid mistakes that we all do at that age. Though his path to adulthood will be rocky (as it always is), I have a feeling that by the time he grows up, he will be fine.
The message of Flora and Son is about communication and how art of any kind can facilitate it. A message that is as needed as it ever was.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Flora and Son? Comment down below!
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