Flora And Son Tackles The Relationships Between A Son, A Mother And A Guitar

by Eloise Sherrid

At first blush, it’s easy to reduce John Carney’s new film, Flora and Son, to just another musical rom-com. Flora, a working-class Irish mom played by Eve Hewson, pulls a guitar out of a dumpster and signs up for online classes taught by a handsome American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). They bare their souls and fall in love. The music is sweet, if a little uninteresting.

But Flora and Son isn’t really about romance. Flora’s here to fix her relationship with her son, Max (Orén Kinlan), whom she resents for stealing her future. He can feel it, so they fight about it. When Flora finds an outlet in the guitar, though, they finally bond through music. Unfortunately, their community writes struggling people off as failures. Max’s probation officer calls both Flora and Max wastes of space. Flora’s friend insinuates that she’s to blame for her problems because she didn’t get an abortion, and her ex mocks her for attempting the guitar.

In the third act, Carney—known for Once and Begin Again—focuses on Flora as she watches Max from the back of a juvenile courtroom and considers leaving him behind. He’s on trial for robbery, and his estranged father hasn’t bothered to show. Conflict rages across Hewson’s face in what becomes one of the film’s stronger moments, because it allows Flora her weaknesses without punishing her for them. She’s not depicted as childish or bad for wanting to walk away from her troubles, allowing Flora and Son to culminate in a nuanced and satisfying ending.

Check it out on Apple+.

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