The Son is Belgian brother-helmers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's follow-up to 1999's Rosetta, and it's just as enigmatic and minimalist as that controversial Palme D'Or winner. Its Christian-themed tale involves the middle-aged Olivier (Olivier Gourmet), who teaches carpentry at a centre for disadvantaged boys in an unnamed city.But why does his ex-wife (Isabella Soupart) react so aggressively when she learns that a particular teenager (Morgan Marinne) is one of his pupils? And why does Olivier take this trainee to a deserted saw mill?
The Dardennes have no truck whatsoever with melodrama or sentimentality. There's no music on the soundtrack, and it's the characters' gestures, rather than their dialogue, which prove most revealing. The shooting style, meanwhile, is claustrophobic and disorientating, with the handheld camera doggedly following Gourmet's stolid figure, framing his bulky physique within a series of confined spaces. Hardly comfortable viewing then, but if you're willing to meet the Dardennes' visual challenge it's rewarding.