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Movie Monday: Flora and Son

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Book By Book

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I watched a wonderful, uplifting movie, Flora and Son. A great way to end the year!

In Dublin, a young woman named Flora, played by Eve Hewson, is raising her son, Max (played by Oren Kinlan), with some occasional help from her ex-husband, Ian (played by Jack Reynor) who is a bass player, though not currently in a band. Flora had Max when she was only 17 years old, and he’s now 14, so she’s still quite young and was caring for a baby while her friends were out partying. She blows off steam by going to clubs and dancing with her best friend. Max is at an age now where he and Flora are always fighting, he gets in trouble a lot, and he doesn’t want to spend much time with her. Flora sees a beat-up old guitar in the trash one day, pulls it out, and gets it fixed by a local music shop. She tries to give it to Max, but when he’s uninterested, she searches online until she finds someone offering guitar lessons whom she feels a connection with. She hires Jeff, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, for a cheap price to give her online lessons. Jeff lives in Los Angeles and seems to be at loose ends in his own life, too. Over the course of many lessons, they get to know each other better, and Flora gradually transitions from bitter and derisive to engaged and committed to learning the guitar. Meanwhile, she realizes that Max is also interested in music, though he’s focused more on synthesizer music and rap. Music just might be the thing to mend their relationship and bring them closer together, while changing both their lives for the better.

This is just a delightful movie. Flora, Max, and even Jeff are all in bad shape when we first meet them, each struggling with their own demons and challenges. Flora is especially rough at the start, smoking, drinking too much, and yelling and swearing at Max and anyone else who gets in her way. Seeing the way that music–and human connection–changes each of them is wonderfully inspiring. As you might expect, there is plenty of music integrated into the movie, from the electronic dance music in the clubs where Flora goes to the rap and hip hop Max loves to the beautiful harmonies and ballads Jeff is teaching Flora. All of the actors are excellent here, and it is a joy to see their characters’ transformations. This heartwarming, funny movie is elevating and delightful, with an ending that will leave you with a smile on your face. 

Flora and Son is playing exclusively on Apple TV+.

And if you like this kind of uplifting, musical movie, I also highly recommend Sing Street, from the same writer/director, and Begin Again (my review at the link).


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