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Review: Our Son – “These experiences and feelings are universal”

Billy Porter, Christopher Woodley and Luke Evans in OUR SON

Our lives are full of milestones, subsequent to the decisions that we make.  We choose a path for our education, our career, our relationships.  Then might come marriage, perhaps the birth of a child, potentially divorce.  Each of these decisions will have consequences, whether positive or negative, for both ourselves, and those around us.  This is true generally in life, but also in life as part of a family. 

Gabriel (Billy Porter) and Nicky (Luke Evans) are navigating these roads together.  In their thirteen-year relationship, they’ve clearly shared many moments of laughter and love.  They have turned a house into a home.  They have gathered a group of friends that become like family.  They have a son, Owen (Christopher Woodley) who extends that family.  On the surface, they seem to have it all, but cracks are forming in that foundation that are about to bring life as they currently know it to an end. 

Nicky, an ambitious professional in the publishing world, sees his role as provider.  His work comes first and he has struggled to bond with Owen, who is his biological child via surrogate.  While he clearly loves his son the two are distant, especially as Nicky works to sign a high-profile author.  Gabriel on the other hand was “with Owen when he was an idea.”  He is the primary caregiver, giving up his acting career to be a loving, caring father.  He takes Owen to school, reads his bedtime stories and knows his schedule.

While he certainly never regrets his choice, he does resent Nicky for not having a better relationship with their son, and for putting their own relationship on the back burner.  As he finds love and affection elsewhere, he also determines that their marriage is over, filing for divorce.  Now, the challenge becomes establishing new routines that take everybody out of their comfort zone, and how to do so in the best interest of their son. 

In Our Son, director Bill Oliver (who co-writes with Peter Nickowitz) wanted to “make a movie that reflects my experience and celebrates the experience of other queer parents.”  He’s also crafted a film though that will speak to many who have had to experience the difficulties of divorce and custody.  The film captures the distress and heartbreak of a breakup and how things can turn nasty so quickly amongst the stress of this monumental change.  It also explores how the end of their relationship affects those around the couple, not only Owen, but their friends who feel they need to stay neutral and try to avoid ‘picking sides.’

We never really get to know Gabriel and Nicky outside of their relationship, the script never really shedding light on this despite their seemingly independent lives.  Yet Evans and Porter are committed, both sharing some of their best work.  Eventually, the film starts to focus more on Nicky’s post-marriage journey and it’s here where we get some more profound moments as he makes stark realizations about himself.  This is where Evans truly shines.  May both men get more roles like this in the future so we can witness their full talents.  Look for Andrew Rannells, Phylicia Rashad and Isaac Powell to round out a strong supporting cast.  

Our Son never really distinguishes itself from other relationship dramas, except with its well depicted representation.  We need to continue to more regularly see LGBTQ+ families, in all forms, on screen.  However, this film follows an all too predictable path, where both men hurt, both learn lessons, learn to co-parent, learn to move on.  These experiences and feelings are universal, as is the love a parent feels for their child and Our Son strongly portrays this.  Its story may not be original, feeling incredibly familiar, but it is honest in its emotion and, by its conclusion, impactful.  

Our Son is in select theatres December 8th and available on demand December 15th.

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