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The Son (Le Fils)

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Okay, I don't see a thread on THIS board about it.

Finally saw it.

Liked it. Loved Olivier Gourmet. Thought the last moment of the film was chilling and beautiful at the same time.

But it just made me wonder... did we really need ALL of those long, slow sequences with Olivier? Seemed a bit like Dogma overkill to me.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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: But it just made me wonder... did we really need ALL of those long, slow

: sequences with Olivier?

Yes.

: Seemed a bit like Dogma overkill to me.

No.

When I have more time, I am going to write a 2500-word commentary defending The Son as the greatest film of the '00s thus far.

Please tell me what you would cut.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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I would cut all footnotes, anything in parantheses, and any cheeky jibes of any sort. (Out of a 2500 word review of The Son by Prins.)

JO, did you see this on DVD or in a theater somewhere?


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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: I would cut all footnotes, anything in parantheses, and any cheeky jibes

: of any sort. (Out of a 2500 word review of The Son by Prins.)

To join two threads together, this is the type of snarkiness that Relevant needs.

Yo mamma.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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It's currently playing at The Grand Illusion, a non-profit art-film theatre in Seattle's University district. It's not much bigger than a shoebox, but it's my only chance to see a wide variety of important films. (It's the only place Hartley's Book of Life ever showed here.)

What would I cut? Good question.

This would make a great double feature with In the Bedroom, wouldn't it...? (Hint hint, mike_h.) Think about it.

I loved the carrying-the-cross imagery throughout.

I loved that they took the time to actually measure "the distance between" the two characters.

I loved the way revelations unfold in the scene when the woman first visits Olivier.

I really did like the film a great deal. It's just that, while the intense immersion of the audience in Olivier's perspective was rewarding and effective, it also made it hard to watch at times, and I found myself longing to step back and get some perspective. My friend Danny found it pretty stifling as well, and breathed a sigh of relief when we got a long shot of the car driving through the gate of the lumber yard.

Question: Is The Son a Dogma film? I think it is.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Wouldn't that leave about 1300.9 words?

If you really are working on an extended review, I can't wait to read it. And perhaps fenagle it from you for online publication. Because I doubt I will see it in Relevant magazine.

Here is a serious question. I am wondering in what ways The Son and julien donkey-boy are similar, and why does The Son seem to succeed where julien fails.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Here is a serious question. I am wondering in what ways The Son and julien donkey-boy are similar, and why does The Son seem to succeed where julien fails.

What the heck? You are a nutball.

OK -- Just like how Dan struggls with Wings and Code, i struggle here. Like the zombie film, i want to revisit one more time just to make sure, and perhaps being at a different time in life or just seeing it in a different way will help something to click. Maybe not, but i must revisit this soon. Too many people whose word i admire have had great things to say (not the least of which was Doug).

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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: Question: Is The Son a Dogma film? I think it is.

The directors were named within the end credits as I recall, and I haven't heard any mention of it being an official Dogme film. Certainly it follows nearly every rule, however.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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: Question: Is The Son a Dogma film? I think it is.

The directors were named within the end credits as I recall, and I haven't heard any mention of it being an official Dogme film. Certainly it follows nearly every rule, however.

Dale

Does it follow the rules with regard to lighting? If so, the Dardennes brothers are gods, as The Son is beautifully lit, especially some of the indoor scenes.

I'm not as big a fan of The Son as Dale is, but for me the long, slow shots of Olivier form the lynchpin of the movie. As I wrote in my review (archived somewhere on the Tollbooth site), "In the press notes, the Dardennes brothers claim that the movie 'could have been called The Father.' They're right, but that underestimates the importance of the title. The film's slowness is mitigated by the tension of the unknown. Why is Olivier sneaking around? What is he looking at? And when we finally recognize the object of his attention, it's still not any easier to figure out his motives. With all of this uncertainty, the title is extraordinarily powerful. We can guess that somehow Olivier's focus is related to a son of some kind, a particular boy. If the movie was entitled The Father, then the focus would be on Olivier's amorphous quest. But with the title of The Son, we have a clearer understanding of what to focus on, despite the movie's steadfast refusal to give anything away too quickly."

The movie's pace forces us to watch, indeed even teaches us in the audience how to watch. In that sense, the film is about how we look at the world and particularly the people around us. For me, cinema doesn't have a much more lofty mission.

J Robert

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Well put.

I looked and looked and no Dogme mention.

(I haven't seen it, but everyone talks about it just like everyone talked about julien d-b [it is "elemental", "digital", "experiential", "etc..."]. That is why I am curious, as to what makes this one work while julien d-b doesn't [in many people's opinion who did like The Son. That is why I asked that question.)


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I loved "The Son". It was a great story.

However there were times when we are focused on the back of Olivier's head for so long that my mind starts to wander because we are not being given any new information. I found myself nodding off here and there.

Perhaps this is just my Americanized appetite for a particular style of story telling.


Exagerate the essential. Leave the obvious vague. ---Vincent Van Gogh

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jrobert wrote:

: The movie's pace forces us to watch, indeed even teaches us in the

: audience how to watch. In that sense, the film is about how we look at

: the world and particularly the people around us.

Well put, indeed. If only the film had left me wanting to go on looking at these people. Instead -- as I wrote when I saw the film last year -- "as good as this film is, and as popular as I'm sure this film will be within this forum, I have to say it didn't leave me pondering its meaning when I left the theatre, the way that some other films have done; it didn't strike me as all that complex, once its secrets were revealed and the suspense had been played out. When it was over, it was over."

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'm not as big a fan of The Son as Dale is...

Add me to the Really Big Fan list: I'm not sure what I've seen this year that I'd rank higher, personally. Absolutely remarkable.

...The film's slowness is mitigated by the tension of the unknown. Why is Olivier sneaking around? What is he looking at?

That's it exactly. I can imagine that anyone who has picked up even a hint of what the film is about might find those sections unduly long: I, knowing nothing, was utterly mesmerized, and I marvelled at how they got the timing precisely right (at least for this viewer). Indeed, there was a moment where I came to the point of consciously thinking, "Alright, I need something to happen right about now to make sense of this" and the very next scene was the one that put it all into focus. It was eerie.

Ron

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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GREAT stuff on this film in the Summer 2003 issue of Cineaste, "Taking the Measure of Human Relationships: An Interview with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne." All kinds of good stuff (e.g. in early drafts Olivier was a cooking instructor), and they directly address "how a Christian might say he or she sees the story as being about forgiveness...".

If you'd like me to transcribe some excerpts, let me know. For now, the last word, from Luc;

Perhaps filming gestures and very specific, material things is what allows the viewer to sense everything that is spiritual, unseen, and not a part of materiality. We tend to think that the closer one gets to the cup, to the hand, to the mouth whose lips are drinking, the more one will be able to feel something invisible - a dimension we want to follow and which would otherwise be less present in the film. How does one capture what happens when a gesture is taught? For example, when Olivier teaches the boy the movements of his trade. Yes, there is certainly the fact that the other person will do the same thing, but something else is happening, too. How can you capture that on film? Perhaps by filming the gestures as precisely as possible you can render apprehensible that which is not seen?


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Some words on the best film of the decade from one of the five best American film critics, Godfrey Cheshire:

"Consider the title. 'The son' refers to Olivier's dead child, yet this is only one of its meanings. Because Francis, a needy and forlorn refugee from five years in a reformatory, is another son to be considered. And when you have a movie called The Son that concerns a carpenter, another Son is inevitably implied.

"That discrete third meaning, incidentally, is cleverly admitted by the film's poster, which contains an image of Francis carrying a large plank over his shoulder--very much Stations-of-the-Cross style--surmounted by a critic's blurb proclaiming 'Miraculous!'

"The film's Christian resonances, however, reflect a pedigree that is perhaps less strictly religious than searchingly cinematic. The Dardennes arrived at a time when the European art film is in a prolonged crisis of meaning, and their reaction has been to look back to the great examples of the past, especially Italian Neorealism and the films of Robert Bresson. In their two previous films, the influence of Neorealism--with its sometimes problematic mix of Christian humanism and sentimental leftism--was more pronounced. In The Son, it is the serene Catholic austerity of Bresson that dominates.

"'Bresson's world,' the critic David Thomson wrote, 'is one of faces, hands, detached views of human activity. They surpass beauty, in both intention and effect, and stress necessity.' The same can be said of The Son, which, its kinetic camerawork notwithstanding, evidences a very Bressonian simplicity and concentration, and a subtly concrete use of sound (minus any music whatsoever). But surely the film's most powerful evocation of Bresson lies in its aura of Christian contemplation.

"Such Bresson masterpieces as Pickpocket, Mouchette and Au Hasard, Balthasar are neither doctrinaire nor strictly allegorical. Their religious content, so to speak, always more oblique than direct, belongs to their subjects and, especially, a point of view that is unmistakably spiritual in its understanding of human nature (and even animal nature, in the case of Balthasar).

"So it is with The Son. The grand themes it treats--sin, guilt, the possibilities of mercy and redemption--are rigorously confined to an apparently mundane tale of a man and a boy working together in a vocational school, a story that would probably be treated by most newspaper editors as a second-rate human interest curiosity. What redeems this material, though, is not that the Dardennes supply it with a religious meaning but that they very carefully frame it so that we can supply our own."

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Does anyone know if "The Son" is still playing theatrically? I guess I've resigned myself to watching it on video, but I don't know how soon it will be available.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Thanks, Dale. Far-out review. Never heard of this Cheshire cat, need to scope him out. Smartsville.

23 skidoo, Daddy-O.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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By the way, o administrative-types who can change Subject lines and so forth... If we're going to be all snobby and everything, and list the foreign title, it's "Le Fils," not "Les fils."


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Merci.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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SDG,

I see from your viewing journal that you finally caught up with this.

And I'll take that A+ as a very encouraging sign.

SPEAK TO US!!

Do we have another voter for Olivier Gourmet as PFCC's Best Actor of 2003?


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

I see from your viewing journal

I have a viewing journal? wink.gif

that you finally caught up with this.

Ask and ye shall receive. Screeners I got in the last week or so by calling up studios and publicists include Le Fils, OT: Our Town, and Spellbound (before that, The Gospel of John).

Do we have another voter for Olivier Gourmet as PFCC's Best Actor of 2003?

Not sure about the Best Actor vote, but maybe. I really, really appreciated the film -- this morning when I finalized my 2003 Top 10 list, I put it at #2, just below The Return of the King.

The last act of the film, from the moment Francis and Olivier head off together on that 40-kilometer (or whatever) drive until the very last shot, is frame for frame perfect and unforgettable, and makes me glad for every earlier shot of the back of Gourmet's head or of Francis awkwardly wielding a hammer. Whatever impatience the viewer feels with the roundabout dialogue is Olivier's impatience, as with awkward casualness he presses Francis for what he needs to hear and Francis needs to say. This is one of the most penetrating meditations on humanity, fallenness, and grace that I have ever seen. I can't wait, can't wait to see it again (and here the phrase "see it again" denotes something fundamentally different from the usual implication of a mere repetition of an action or experience; here to "see it again" is something quite different than to see it a first time).

I think PTC may be right when he says that unlike other oblique and challenging films this one doesn't invite you to spend long hours afterward pondering and discussing its meaning, that "when it's over it's over." But unlike Peter, I regard that not as an indication of limited achievement, but of perfection. The same point is put right way round by Roger Ebert, who begins his review by saying, "'The Son' is complete, self-contained and final. All the critic can bring to it is his admiration. It needs no insight or explanation. It sees everything and explains all. It is as assured and flawless a telling of sadness and joy as I have ever seen." That is exactly right, except that sadness and joy are much smaller concepts than what the film is really about, as I'm sure Ebert would admit on a moment's thought.

Only two films had for me the effect that House of Sand and Fog had for Peter, or that Stevie had for Jeffrey, of affecting me on a moral level and challenging me to resolve to live differently. One was Shattered Glass (#5 on my list), which made me want to be more honest. And the other was The Son, which made me want to be closer to God.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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8)


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Any discussion of alleged "screener tours" should take place in private email and not use any of the resources of this website.

This website does not advocate any sharing of screeners.

For the record.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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SDG:

: I think PTC may be right when he says that unlike other oblique and

: challenging films this one doesn't invite you to spend long hours

: afterward pondering and discussing its meaning, that "when it's over it's

: over." But unlike Peter, I regard that not as an indication of limited

: achievement, but of perfection.

Yes. Ambiguity is not necessarily a virtue, and certainty is not necessarily a sin. The fact that the Dardennes have had the prescience to end all three of their (US-released) films exactly when they ought end -- that is, right after we see the resolution of the main moral dilemma -- should be lauded. That their films' leads make their decisions unequivocally and without looking back is more interesting, I think, than if, say, Oliver spent the last half-hour wondering if he made the right decision.

And yes, Gourmet will get either my first or second place vote.

Dale


Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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For me, I think, it's less an issue of certainty than clarity. Olivier's certainty is obviously important, but what I think Peter may have had reservations about, and what I don't, was the sense when the drama ends that we are not invited to struggle with the film for its meaning, that we all understand exactly what the film is saying, what has happened and what it means. I can appreciate wrestling with a film for its meaning, but I can also appreciate a film like this, which invites me to wrestle not with the film but with my own heart, and with God.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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