Deafening silence

March 26, 2023

The Son addresses issue of mental health among youngsters

Deafening  silence


ans Christian Anderson once said, “where words fail, music speaks.” As if agreeing with him, Hans Zimmer incorporated laughter and sadness, love and hatred, comfort and pain in the same chords, the rising pulses and the low notes. Happiness shrouded by an unshakable grief; an irresistible feeling of lingering gloom and despair about to follow the symphony of chaotic contentment.

Scenes shifting from a warm rustic well-made bed, sunlight pouring in and a concoction of graphics highlighting the static nature of the room through visuals and a distant city buzz humming somewhere near and yet far; to a grey unmade room facing a back alley, the silence enveloping, reminders of human existence and a hollow emptiness, apathy and hopelessness gnawing through the walls.

The Son comes across as a work of art. The cast comes with a diverse history of starring in the best movies ever produced from Mission Impossible, X-Men, The Greatest Showman, Jurassic Park and Fantastic Beasts. Needless to say, the emotions evoked by the characters weighed more than words.

Hugh Jackman plays Peter Miller, a son and a father, frantically chasing after his dream of entering politics as a lawyer when he finally sits down at the big tables in DC, pivoting dangerously between caring for a newborn son and his recent marriage whilst tending to a troubled teenager who has just returned to him for the first time since his parents’ divorce. A sensitive, timid, exhausted and in pain Zen McGarth appears as Nicholas Miller, a young man who his parents fail to understand: a child with a bright future and infinite possibilities. Vanessa Kirby, Beth on screen, is Peter’s second wife. Laura Dern is Nicholas’s mother, Kate.

The movie is a prequel to the stage play, The Father. The viewers witness the strained relationship between Peter and his dad, a remorseless, if not absent, father. When Peter pays him a visit to sort out his emotions, he returns walking on eggshells, flipping the second he learns that Nicholas hasn’t been attending school when he thought he was a better father.

Hugh Jackman plays Peter Miller, a son and a father, frantically chasing after his dream of entering politics as a lawyer when he finally sits down at the big tables in DC, pivoting dangerously between caring for a newborn son and his recent marriage.

From Peter’s perspective, he has given his son complete freedom, privacy and opportunity to heal in his own way. The slightest let-down on Nicholas’ part sets him off; frustrated that mental health is not measurable in terms of perfect performance at school and inclusion in social affairs.

“It’s life. It’s weighing me down. I want something to change but I don’t know what… I try everyday with all my strength, but I can’t deal with any of it. I’m in pain all the time. I’m tired.”

Unable to detach themselves from the social picture of a perfect child who was happy in his childhood and should have no reason to be unhappy as an adult, Kate and Peter try their best to remain oblivious to the fact that the comfort provided to Nicholas would not suffice to save him from drifting away from reality. As a son who was ‘abandoned’ by his father when he remarried and started a new life, Nicholas is torn between doting on memories of a perfect father and hating the version that broke his mother’s heart and left them.

When he moves in with Peter and Beth, the possibility of his own family being complete starts fading away, a catalyst in the destructive process. Following constant self-harm, he cries for help with a suicide attempt and a hospital visit. However, his parents do not see the depth of fragility, shutting their eyes to the actual problem that has torn Nicholas into two: the divorce.

“It’s better to see something in a dark light than to not see it at all. He’s depressed and he is unstable. The look in his eyes is weird. It’s disturbing. When are you going to pick up the fact that he’s not right in the head.”

Mental health is often taken for granted by those who are not suffering in some form. Nicholas’s acute depression is a serious ailment that makes him walk for hours, sit alone, zone out mid-conversation; a haunting picture of what can happen to the best of us if circumstances are beyond our control. While Beth understands the pain Nicholas is in and the reason behind it, Peter and Kate keep denying it, pretending to be a normal family. The Son addresses a very common issue in not only the youth but also adults. [The global toll stands at an estimated 703,000 people a year. An accurate portrayal of mental illnesses where a divorce, not addiction, is the cause of suicide attempts and parents’ unconditional love and pain, not stigma, is the reason Nicholas is taken out of therapy, give a realistic colour to the motion picture.

The writer is an undergraduate student of psychology at FC College

Deafening silence