My name is Lysiane, I am the Deputy Director and Social Media Lead at Euro Youth Mental Health. With this blog I want to take you with me through my experience of working on the launch of the new movie “The Son”, joining its premiere in Brussels and my thoughts on the movie itself.
Thanks to our Board Member and Interim Youth Involvement Lead Alejandra, we got in touch with the team working on the launch of the movie. From the start we could tell that everyone working in and around it was doing it out of passion and will to bring forward youth mental health discussions which not only brought us excitement to see the topic represented on the big screen but also to see that it wasn’t a one off. Everyone clearly cared a lot about showing the importance of youth mental health and involving experts by experience, NGOs and all stakeholders working on the topic on a day to day basis. This was a movie stretching the need for better support and education on the topic we’ve been advocating for and we therefore were thrilled to be part of the launch campaign and encourage people to watch it, to start discussions around it.
Going to the premiere following all the work on this was very heart warming, especially when I saw so many people waiting to get in for the movie and a fully packed room. Once more, you could very quickly tell that it was a gathering of people who care. People who have suffered in relation and decided to do everything they could so no one else would feel that way, people who fight every day to support young people everywhere and get them a better care. We were not only spectators coming to see a movie, we were a community gathering around a story that represents something we’ve witnessed, something that’s hard but needs to be addressed.
The wonderful host opened the event in the stunning Eldorardo room of the UGC De Brouckère (a beautiful important room for an important topic) with an introduction from the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. Knowing the Commissioner’s implication in mental health, it was very meaningful to see her on screen for the simple reason that it showed that we’re not the only ones who care. Her opening resonated with me especially when she stretched that “shame still exists in 2023” and “we must say loud and clear that it is okay not to be okay”. One strong message, that also ended with what I feel is the main takeaway from this movie and discussion: “Love is not enough”. Because no matter how much you love someone, there is a time where others must be allowed to intervene and something just cannot be healed with love only.
When it comes to linking the movie to lived experience, Harry Corin has set the scene perfectly. Many of us resonated with the story and Harry highlighted this and the fact that you can’t trust what you see in these situations because “on paper he was absolutely fine”. One highlight from his speech is for me the fact that people still don’t talk about this enough while it is the biggest thing we can do. As he very rightfully put it “understanding emotions is a skillset that can save lives”.
The movie therefore started on a powerful underlying scene set and while not going into details to avoid spoiling something you truly need to see and experience, I will say that all characters are extremely right. At no point did I think that something was an exaggeration or something was underplayed, it was all just very well done. The parents seeing their lives thrown upside down, trying to make sense of things that don’t to them, trying to reach out but not knowing how showed the extend of how youth mental health is not one person’s problem. People around are affected, are also in a dark place desperately lighting up what they think are the right lightbulbs but all of them exploding one after the other. And there is the son, Nicholas at the center who tries but is just lost and confused about how he feels and what’s happening to him. Who tries to keep moving but also can’t, who smiles but also doesn’t mean it no matter how hard he tries, that feels alone even when people are around, that feels like a disturbance even when his family tries to include him.
It is a hard story because it is so real, because you can feel that there are lived stories behind this one, because like the parents you are a witness to a situation you desperately want to intervene in, because your love is not enough to stop the pain you’re seeing. It is more than a movie, it is a lived experience in itself we all are part of.
Seeing a message from the director, Florian Zeller, who happens to be my favourite writer since I was a teenager myself made this experience even more special than it already was. His confirmation that this story was based on personal experience, had created a lot of discussions around mental health during filming and his wish to see more discussions happen because of it meant even more.
Lastly, Zen McGrath who brilliantly plays the role of the son Nicholas joined us live for a Q&A. Being able to see his deep involvement with the role, his connection to us and the world around the topic just opened the door to all the conversations that were to be had. Zen gave life to what a lot of us have felt but were unable to manifest, showed the vulnerability hidden in the strength and shows all young people everywhere that they exist and that #WeCare.
You need to see this movie not only for you but for all it represents, for the stage it gives to youth mental health, for the door it open to conversations we finally need to have out loud. Together we can do better.
- “The Son“, directed by Florian Zeller
- Featuring: Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, Anthony Hopkins
- Watch the trailer here.