Flora And Son Gala Presentation with John Carney (dir), Oren Kinlan (cast), Gary Clark (cast), Anthony Bregman (cast), Peter Cron (cast), Rebecca O’Flanagan (cast), Robert Walpole (cast)
The latest from writer-director John Carney (Once, Sing Street) features a revelatory performance from Eve Hewson as a young mother trying to connect with her teenage son through a shared love of music.
In films like the beloved Oscar winner Once and Sing Street, Irish writer-director John Carney (Begin Again, TIFF ’13) has reinvented the musical, swapping ornately choreographed razzamatazz for a disarmingly earnest indie simplicity. With Flora and Son, Carney has crafted his most soulful song cycle yet, setting a young single mother on a journey of self-discovery.
Flora (Eve Hewson) is something of a hot mess. She’s feisty, charismatic, and a trouble magnet. She loves to party — but she loves her 14-year-old son Max (Orén Kinlan) more, even if it seems like all they do is quarrel. In an effort to bridge the gulf between them, Flora gives Max a guitar, but Max’s ideal musical instrument is his computer, which he uses to construct infectious dance tracks.
Rather than let the guitar collect dust, Flora opts to develop her own musical chops, taking online lessons from Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a handsome troubadour who shows Flora how to form basic chords and introduces her to the genius of Joni Mitchell. Flora falls for Jeff, despite the fact that she’s in Dublin and he’s in Los Angeles. But as Jeff pierces Flora’s heart, he also inspires in her a creative urge that might lead to a whole new way of connecting with Max.
Carney’s films convey a profound understanding of how music lifts us out of life’s dead-end distractions and carries us to a place where we can be our best selves. Flora and Son is a soaring realization of this idea. It also marks the arrival of a major talent: with her magnetic, emotionally layered performance, Hewson is a revelation.