Flora and Son is directed by John Carney, the writer and director behind Begin Again (2013), Once (2007), and Sing Street (2016). Carney’s films are always about damaged and troubled people who find each other and healing through music. The formula has worked beautifully in his other films, so it seems that Carney is loath to change it.
In Flora and Son, Eve Hewson stars as Flora, a single mother who decides to take guitar lessons over the internet with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character. Orén Kinlan plays her son, and her estranged husband is played by Jack Reynor. Over the course of the movie, Flora discovers her talent for music and bonds with her son who keeps getting into trouble in inner city Dublin.
Like so much of Carney’s work, the songs are sweet and lovely, and the character development all works in a slow, laconic way. Hewson carries the film, playing Flora unapologetic and bold but layering in moments of painful self-reflection. Hewson and Levitt have great chemistry, and there is a little magical realistic trick Carney uses to build that relationship even though much of the relationship exists online.
Kinlan plays a key role, and it didn’t quite work for me, as some of the choices that actor made caused his character to be more unlikeable and – at other times – inscrutable than he needed to be.
Overall, Flora and Son is lovely, sweet film, like most of Carney’s work. Because it does have some strong language, it’s not everybody, but most people will enjoy what Carney and Flora and Son have to offer.