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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Isabella Soupart, Remy Renaud, Nassim Hassaïni

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Cannes Palme d’Or winners Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne return with actor Olivier Gourmet in LE FILS (THE SON). Gourmet plays Olivier a woodwork teacher at a small technical college. A man of few words and with few friends, he takes his work seriously and is respected by his young working class pupils.

When Francis (Morgan Marinne), a teenager, arrives as a potential apprentice Olivier first declares his class is already too big to take on one more, but changes his mind and allows the boy to learn his trade. It seems he is attracted yet repelled by the boy, and the audience is left wondering why Olivier is so intrigued by him. Does he remind him of his own son, who we learn died some years ago? The camera follows Olivier in such tight pursuit we feel claustrophobic at first, unsure why he rushes about so much, why he tries to fill his time when he could take opportunities to relax and speak to his students and colleagues. It is not until later that we learn why Francis plays such a crucial role in Olivier’s life, but as both characters begin to open up and we find out how their pasts are entwined, we realise they must be more than student and teacher.

LE FILS is an extremely moving story about grief and acceptance, about men and their emotions and with very naturalistic performances by Gourmet and Marinne.

4 out of 6 stars