American Son (2019): Drama

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While their son goes missing, an estranged couple, having a lot of issues to deal with, must wait at the police station until further news arrives.

As a big Kerry Washington fan, straight after watching the trailer, I put on Netflix and watched it. The disappointment was huge. So, where do I start…

Characters: All four of them are dislikable. In a nutshell: Kendra throws out there a few times that she has a Ph.D. in Psychology and not even once, can she hold her emotions, lashing out at everyone. Scott, an FBI agent, who acts nothing like it – more like a wannabe CEO with his head way up his arse. Paul is just a dumbass and Lt. Stokes an obnoxious bellend.

Acting: Jeremy Jordan could have made his naive character act like it; he could have done a lot more with it. Steven Pasquale looks like he doesn’t want to be on set; it’s like he forgot he is going out with his mates for pints and he has stood them up. Eugene Lee acts as if he’s a judge, dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and, as with Steven, he’s in a rush to leave the set and go back to sleep. Last but definitely not least, my favourite Kerry Washington who, while raising political and social issues, constantly grimaces and acts as if the importance of those issues matters to her more than her missing son. Something that leads me to the…

Story: Feels very forceful! In an hour and a half, it is trying to address racism from… Every. Single. Angle. The topic changes and, not very creatively, every time comes back to that. Repeatedly. Over and over again. And the damage it does is that it overshadows the parents’ greatest fear: the worst-case scenario about their child. Which may or may not be the case here (watch it). When your child goes missing and ultimately is proved that you know a lot more than you reveal in the beginning you are not preoccupied that much with racism. You wait until your child proves to be alright, bollock it to tears, and then argue with anyone about anything. In American Son, everyone argues with everyone and it all boils down to race. White on black, black on white, and black on black. And this notion to fully develop and thoroughly analyse such a perplex and painful issue as ‘racism’ in an hour and a half ruins the plot which should have been the parents’ agonising drama. Period. All the rest is a subplot.

Really shame as all actors are brilliant (apologies for favouring more Kerry) but the story’s unfolding doesn’t do justice to neither the characters nor the acting. Here in the UK, racism is a massively sore issue as well but I have hardly ever heard any conversation going down like that. One of the best films I watched last year, which tackles racism in a very creative, subtle but also kind of a funny way is Blindspotting (2018) – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

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