MOVIES: BFI Flare – Our Son


Our Son is a heartbreaking divorce drama through the lense of a queer couple who realise that their marriage is falling apart. It’s tense, emotional and powerfully acted, a real stage-actor’s dream, with Billy Porter and Luke Evans playing central characters – the husband/husband team who find themselves torn apart when differences reach their point, and Porter’s well-liked Gabriel realises he’s fallen for someone else. Evans’ Nicky, in desperation puts their remaining relationship in jeopardy by lashing out in protection for their 8 year old son, Owen – as both learn what it means to be a father.

It’s a complicated drama; we’ve had tons of these films over the years with Baumbach’s Marriage Story being a comparison point. Our Son doesn’t do anything new for a divorce drama other than make its two leads a queer couple but at the same time, Bill Oliver’s dynamic is such a welcome change it makes it easy to overlook any sense of familiarity. The film explores the elder generation of queers who came out when they were younger and a lot of the arc that Nicky is undergoing explores him wishing he had more freedom when he was younger; and lived in a more tolerating society. There’s a lot of heartbreaking emotional cues that make Our Son stand out; and the film scores bonus points by simply just letting gay men be parents – it’s sadly a rarity and that alone makes Our Son worth seeking out – those expecting the normal clubbing excess won’t find it here.

Porter’s delivery of their own arc is incredible and the performances by both them and Evans are really actor’s performances of the best possible kind, uniquely human and emotionally charged. For all the familiarty in the storyline of parents fighting for their children’s divorce Our Son manages to use what you know to tell it in a new way – breathing new life into the genre. It’s heartbreaking. You will cry – especially if you relate to anything at play here. The way the film defines Nicky and Gabriel from the off sets you up for emotional heartbreak: they’ve been together thirteen years, Gabriel has sacrificed eight years of his acting career to raise a son, Nicky has pooled all his money into the house for them that he’s likely now going to have to sell to fund a divorce. Their friends are shared between them and it will create a wedge; and what’s worse is that their son Owen (Christopher Woodley) is going to have to choose between them: Gabriel having the instant edge as the stay at home, likeable parent. Nicky has a long way to go.

Heated emotions flare over the custody of Owen which fuels the narrative of Our Son and the almost family-friendly drama feels like it tackles plenty of important things to say that a lot of people tend to overlook in the wider media when it comes to representation of queer people on screen. What kind of gay men do Nicky and Gabriel want to be now that they’re divorced? Our Son almost gives them the second chance to come out again – defying gendered expectations in a way that makes this film commendable for its understanding of the community. Their chemistry may be on thin ice but then that is baked into the plot – these characters don’t have instant chemistry anymore, they aren’t on the same wavelength – they aren’t in love with each other. No matter how they try.

But the spark has not gone from Our Son. The screenplay may be blunt in getting its point across – but its triumph comes from Luke Evans and Billy Porter being talented enough to sell even the least subtle of lines.

Our Son is playing at BFI Flare now – with tickets still available for Wednesday 20 March, and is available on digital release from 25 March. You can watch the trailer here.

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