There were hardly any musicals that premiered at TIFF this year, one of them was John Carney’s latest feature from Apple films Flora And Son. John Carney has had an exceptional record delivering classic musicals throughout his filmography. He is considered to be a specialist in this particular genre. Flora and Son stars Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Orén Kinlan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and like most of his other projects, it is based in Dublin.
The story follows Flora (Eve Hewson) and her son Max (Orén Kinlan), who don’t like each other and constantly fight with each other. Flora gifts a used guitar to Max hoping to find him something to do, which is immediately rejects. She then decides to learn the guitar herself from a handsome LA-based musician Jeff (Levitt). Flora and Son is very much a Mother-Son love story about discovering yourself through music.
The talented Eve Hewson once again shines in this role of an imperfect mother and is electric in every scene. She was perfectly cast, and so was her son. The two of them had Wonderful chemistry on screen. The scenes with the two of them were probably the most fun to watch due to the sharp banter between them. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also charming in his role and is also convincing as a musician. Jack Reynor was a scene stealer with his short yet impactful role. He just energized every scene he was in. I wish he had a bigger role. All the cast members did really well.
John Carney just seems to know the right formula to tell relatable coming-of-age stories in a musical setting. The way he uses music as a catalyst to deliver his vision is always a joy to watch. Like most of his previous work, Flora and Son has loads of humor and a feel-good tone. His script is crisp and fast-paced and with so many heartfelt moments. It just feels very refreshing and pleasing throughout. He carves out characters that are imperfect and vulnerable, which makes them more relatable. He also chooses to not tie up every plot and leaves the viewer with a hopeful ending.
Flora and Son does spend a lot of time exploring the romance between Jeff and Flora, but never fully enters the rom-com territory. Similarly for Max, he is also given a love interest but it’s never about trying to impress her, the focus is always on guiding him to find his calling and guiding him towards it. This is probably not Carney’s best work as it is too quick for its own good in parts and definitely could’ve gone deeper into some characters’ emotions and explored that depth. But it is still one of his best works.
Flora and Son is a heartwarming musical that hits the right notes as it orchestrates a moving love story between a mother and son. It is a sincere coming-of-age story that uses soulful music to take through their ups and downs in the classic John Carney style. You will have a constant smile on your face while watching this heartfelt story. Carney also has a refreshing way of making you stay for the credits, so don’t skip the end.
Flora and Son releases on AppleTV+ on September 29.