'Your Son' (Tu Hijo) Movie Review
This brutally effective thriller is engrossing Spanish cinema at its most suspenseful.
Released: November 9, 2018 (Spain)
Length: 83 Minutes
Director: Miguel Ángel Vivas
Starring: Jose Coronado, Ana Wagener, Asia Ortega, Pol Monen, Ester Expósito and Marco H. Medina
With many imposingly ruthless productions under his belt, Miguel Angel Vivas has headed to Netflix for his latest effort on a father’s push for vengeance.
Your Son follows capable surgeon Jaime Jimenez (Jose Coronado) who lives comfortably with his family in Spain. His son Marcos (Pol Monen) is brutally beaten outside a nightclub and the father demands justice; but as his efforts with the police and modern law systems turn up little progress, the father starts to track down the attackers on his own terms, only to find himself sinking towards criminal activity. We follow Jaime closely as he scopes out the nightclub and the surrounding areas at night, inching closer to the inevitable reveal as those around him grow more concerned. Things get more brutal and the final revelation, which I won’t give away here, is incredibly disturbing. Above all else, Your Son is about family and the lengths people will go to keep secrets or get their own back on someone who wronged them. Most of the production offers a considerable amount of suspense. It’s only dampened by the occasionally iffy moment, namely involving a phone video on an attacker’s locked phone. Outside of this though, you’ll be firmly engrossed.
At the film’s centre, Jose Coronado does a brilliant job with his performance. As criminal proceedings drag on and the attacker's elude capture, you can really feel his temper and patience reaching their limits as the film goes on. His slow decline from his high position is well-captured and your support for him slowly diminishes throughout the narrative. Everyone around him doesn’t get as much attention but they all feel very authentic, capturing the shared trauma of the situation. If anything, I wish we could have seen the effects of Jaime’s actions weigh more heavily on them. His wife Carmen (played by Ana Wagener for example) is stricken with grief, barely able to speak to her partner but a greater deterioration could have been layered throughout the plot to create further emotional impact. The daughter Sara (Asia Ortega) fares a bit better though, occasionally dripping some crucial information at critical points throughout the narrative. Even with these issues however, the plot’s emotional climax comes through incredibly well.
Atmosphere is key to making Your Son work the way it does. With many scenes often taking place at night, the flashing colours of Spain’s nightlife are used to great effect. One moment sees a surge of red appear on Jaime’s face as he begins to follow a believed perpetrator, and this heightens the tension to follow. While the shots are mostly close and intimate, there’s also some extended tracking shots that really pull you into the setting; director Miguel Angel Vivas wants you to absorb these moments entirely, ensuring that the audience is never pulled out of the moment. One motif the film focuses on is the protagonist’s hands. He’s constantly washing them throughout; while at first, it’s to maintain a steady hand in his clinical operations, later it’s to wash off something fouler. This is a great method of visual storytelling that matches the grim subject matter. The music is mostly ambient music pieces placed against pounding club music that works well at grounding the setting. You’ll be reminded of countless neo-noir films as you watch, and the production team has done a great job of capturing those contemporaries.
It’s not without the occasional plot-hole and the background elements aren’t a cohesive part of the narrative, but Your Son is an often gritty and gut-wrenching production that successfully apes other stories of individuals taking the law into their own hands. It shouldn’t be passed up by anyone looking for a tense and emotionally-resonant experience.
Rating: 4/5 Stars (Great)