Flora and Son is about a mother, Flora (Eve Hewson), and her 14 year old son Max (Orén Kinlan). Max is constantly in trouble with the law. Flora is barely scraping by. Max’s dad, Ian (Jack Reynor), is available but Flora and Ian are no longer a couple.
Flora and Son tells about a transformation in their lives. When the story begins there’s a lot of arguing, anger, drinking, and unhappiness. The police threaten to put Max in juvenile detention.
Flora picks up a discarded guitar and takes it home in a desperate attempt to get Max interested in something.
Max isn’t interested in a guitar. Ian, a semi-failed musician, ridicules Flora when she says she might learn to play it. So of course, she decides to learn to play it.
Flora finds a guitar teacher online. She lives in Dublin. The guitar teacher lives in LA. He’s Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), another semi-failed musician. Over the computer, they begin guitar lessons. In about 45 seconds, Flora has learned a batch of chords and starts writing songs. She has notes on Jeff’s songs and they work together to write some songs.
Flora finally notices what her kid is up to. Max’s pounding away on the computer was actually him composing music using Garage Band. In about 45 seconds Flora learns to use Garage Band, too. Now everybody’s a songwriter. Mother and son are finally able to connect. Jeff helps them. It’s the power of music, reader.
I’ve made the film sound like it’s on the light and fluffy side, but it’s more than that. Eve Hewson is fantastic as the angry, struggling mom. The discussions about music and songwriting that Flora and Jeff have are poetic and inspiring.
Music brings the family together in ways nothing else could. Flora has been crushing on Jeff and thinks she might go to LA to meet him in person. Instead she buys Max a keyboard and synthesizer.
Much like Language Lessons, Flora and Son explores how two people who don’t know anything about each other can become friends and be vulnerable over a video connection. Jeff keeps it professional, but Flora is more aggressive about sex – both with Jeff and her ex, Ian. She pushes, Jeff resists. But the music they cooperate on works.
I thought the film, now streaming on Apple TV+, was quite good. John Carney wrote and directed. If you’re willing to accept the notion that Flora could become an accomplished musician in 45 seconds, I think you’ll enjoy this film.