Dear Son

A movie that could not be more relevant to the current newscycle, Dear Son is about a father searching for answers after his son up and runs off to Syria. A vividly drawn picture of an ordinary family undergoing the ordinary issue of a teenager making a bad decision, painting the ecstatics of betrayal and grief buried in ordinary life.

The actor playing the father conveys a world of meaning, both in his lines and in his silences. He is on the brink of retirement, looking forward to the joys of watching his son ascend into all his promise, and reap the rewards of years of work and sacrifice. You get the idea that this, their only child, was a much wanted baby who appeared after all hope for a child was beginning to wane, and he became his parents’ whole life.

The son on the other hand is clearly cracking under the pressure of being the centre of his parents’ world. He has genuine love for them but there is an unstated need for escape.

This movie is really about the contrast between the mundane and the dramatic. For all the raw, heart-rending drama in this story, it mostly takes place in a drab flat or in offices or hotel rooms. The big events taken place off screen and you’re left to survey their aftermath. In a sense this movie is the classic conflict of a son rejecting his father’s path. What he rejects is the boring, everyday, ordinariness of it all, the map laid out of exams, uni, marriage, work, death. Like most terrible teenage decisions, central is the need for glory, for drama, for some spectacle or gesture to prove your life is meaningful. And while Syrian jihadists are villains to most and heroes to some, what they are not is boring.

His father would have found his son’s life meaningful no matter what path he had chose, so long as it made him happy. Instead his son chooses to throw his life away. For all the son’s ambition to be this romantic figure of strength and bravery, it is his father’s survival in the aftermath of his decision and resolution to endure that evinces real bravery and strength.