Directed by: Taron Lexton Written by: Jim Meskimen Starring: Jim Meskimen, Nick Lane Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Did you ever see that famous painting Nighthawks by Edward Hopper? The one of the American diner at night. I want you to picture it. Now imagine that scene with a father and son sitting inside, both adults, the son a former heroin addict. Feels weird right? Now imagine that the father is also a drug addict, asking his recovered son to aid him in his quest for a more powerful opioid drug. A nightmarish twist on a classic painting you might say and that is exactly what filmmakers Taron Lexton and Jim Meskimen have created with short film Son to Son.
Jim Meskimen (who also writes here) stars as the aforementioned father, sitting inside a diner at night waiting for the arrival of his son (Nick Lane). The tension between the familial pair is obvious and as his dad starts to question his recovery, the son feels a very familiar routine setting in. However, what becomes troublingly clear is that his dad is not asking questions about his drug habit and former cohorts out of love or worry, but instead as a reconnaissance mission to fuel his own addiction.
Superbly dark yet peppered with intimate moments, Son to Son captures an original take on a common theme. Exploring the destruction drugs can take on a family is certainly well explored territory, yet the film, directed by Taron Lexton, feels immensely fresh and compelling. This is aided by two fierce central performances who have incredible chemistry on screen, and a terrific aesthetic that combines noirish motifs and intelligent dramatic devices (the salt shaker scene being particularly memorable).
Lane provides a suitably moody turn as the wayward child, adopting a slouched and wearied demeanor as he delivers his lines that are pointed and laced with indignation, hinting at a brilliant backstory. It is Meskimen’s performance, however, that really stood out for me. His journey for the audience goes from a worried, almost tender father to a reckless and unstable drug addict within minutes and yet the effect is not jolting or unconvincing. Instead, Meskimen delivers a tragically believable character in a short space of time to great effect. Both performers benefit from a well-crafted script that has an authenticity to it rarely found in stories of drug abuse, where the dialogue can often drift off into a reverie of cliched innocence and villainy.
Thematically there is a lot to grapple with in Son to Son. During the 8 minutes running time the viewer is presented with a lot of ideas to chew on. When role reversal occurs in a family structure, what's the protocol? If someone falls down the same slippery slope as you, do you respond in kind or offer the support you wish you had received? This and a whole lot more gets posited but unfortunately left dangling by the short's climax. Infuriating for some, most audiences will likely be jonesing for a feature length, as is the case with the best short films.
Riddled with tension, guilt, and role reversal, Son to Son is a remarkable feat of cinematic storytelling that pays tribute to classic genres whilst offering a modern twist to a quintessential tale.
Watch the official movie trailer below...