The Son (Fils, Le) (2002)

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Released 7-Feb-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Directors Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (32:24)
Interviews-Cast-Oliver Gourmet (Actor) (33:42)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Child; The Promise; Night on Earth; Exiles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 99:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (35:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Luc Dardenne
Celluloid Dreams
Madman Entertainment
Starring Olivier Gourmet
Morgan Marinne
Isabella Soupart
Nassim Hassaïni
Kevin Leroy
Félicien Pitsaer
Rémy Renaud
Annette Closset
Fabian Marnette
Pierre Nisse
Stephan Barbason
David Manna
Abdellah Amarjouf
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Olivier (Olivier Gourmet) teaches carpentry at a centre for wayward teens, giving them a trade and the chance of a fresh start in life. A somewhat reserved chap, he lives alone in a simple apartment and wears a large, leather back brace most of the time to support his ailing lower spine. A new trainee arrives at the centre, Francis (Morgan Marinne), and Olivier is visibly shaken, spying intensely and appearing overly curious about the new recruit. It isn't until we meet Olivier's former wife (Isabelle Soupart) that we learn of the tragedy in Olivier's life. Olivier is certain that young Francis is responsible, but says nothing, rather he takes Francis into his class and attempts to understand the teen a bit better.

    This film is a fascinating, emotional journey. Although he tries his best to help the lad, Olivier's tension spills over when Francis asks him to be his guardian, and he simply can't keep a lid on his frustrations any longer. An unlikely resolution is reached after an intense confrontation, as the two find a commonality in their deep-seeded guilt.

    The Son (le fils) is a very simple production, in fact anyone who is familiar with the Dardenne brothers work will recognise the style present here. Like their recent award winner, The Child, much of the camerawork is hand held, and there is no music present at all. This serves to draw attention to the performances, which are confronting to say the least. This film was written especially for Olivier Gourmet, and he clearly relishes the role, delivering his performance with a quiet intensity that leaps off the screen.

    If you enjoyed The Child and would like to see some of the Dardenne's past work, The Son is a good place to start.

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Transfer Quality


    The film has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The image is pillar boxed, with black bars on the left and right.

    The overall image is adequately sharp and fairly easy on the eye. The two main negatives of this transfer are slightly overbearing film grain (Super 16 stock was used), which is exacerbated by compression issues. Close-ups of characters' faces show good detail in stubble and skin textures, however as soon as a scene gets dark, such as at 35:25, the image is awash with grain and noise.

    The colour scheme is a little drab, in a grey, semi-industrial kind of way. I didn't note any rendering issues or inconsistencies at all, and skin tones appear to be spot-on.

    An average MPEG bitrate of 6.3Mb/s has been applied. Compression artefacts can be seen in most scenes, either as hazy grain or haloing around foreground objects. I suspect the level of film grain has effected the efficiency of the compression process. A good example of the compression noise can be seen on any pale surface, such as the cream walls of Olivier's apartment at 10:40. I noted a couple of inconsequential, tiny specs here and there, but the source print is in an otherwise excellent condition as far as film artefacts go.

    An English subtitle stream is activated by default and is comprised of a thin, yellow font that is easy to read. I didn't notice any annoying errors or Americanisms in the text.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9), with a layer break placed during the feature at 35:31. The transition was transparent on my system.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, both of which are the film's original French language. The default soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s). I sampled the Dolby Digital 2.0 option (224Kb/s) on a few occasions.

    This is a decidedly lo-fi affair, in keeping with the overall nature of the production. Dialogue is always crystal clear, and appears to be comprised of location audio only. There are no effects or 'bells and whistles'. I didn't notice any sync problems at all.

    The only portion of the film that employed the surround channels was the opening scenes, with table saws and assorted workshop noises coming from all angles. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray.

    Given that the surround default is weighted towards the front, there is not a lot of difference between these audio options.

    The subwoofer remained dormant throughout. There is no call for LFE effects in this film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Menu Animation & Audio

    The main menu is animated with a scene taken from the film, and is 16x9 enhanced. The remaining interviews and extras are presented in 1.33:1.

Interview- Directors Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne (32:24)

    The pair discuss how the project came about, their approach to the story and script, and deciding upon locations in Belgium. The casting process was particularly tedious for them, as they were intent on finding the right young actors. The brothers also discuss the editing process and their past projects, in which they used the same crew for filming.

Interview- Oliver Gourmet (Actor) (33:42)

    This interview covers a lot of similar ground as the above. Olivier discusses his thoughts on the film's themes and the character, which was written especially for him. He seems to have a very close friendship with the Dardenne's, and reveals how relaxed their working relationship is on the set. In preparing for the role, he met adults who were experiencing challenges similar to his character and did a lot of research.

Gallery (3:25)

    A series of stills, zoomed and panned, taken during production. There is no audio accompaniment.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

    A very effective trailer that does not betray the vibe of the film.

Madman Trailers (2)

    These include The Child, The Promise, Night on Earth and Exiles.

Director Biography & Filmography

    As with other Director's Suite titles, the inside of the cover slick contains info that is well worth reading.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 and Region 2 releases contain the same interviews and alternate trailers. The Region 1 transfer lacks the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and is a PAL conversion, with a similar runtime and visible ghosting in the image. The Region 2 release (Artificial Eye) spreads the same content over two single-layered (DVD5) discs and adds an Italian language dub. I don't see a problem with the local product.


    The Son (le fils) is confronting, yet rewarding viewing.

    The video transfer is good.

    The audio transfer is simple.

    The extras are revealing and pertinent to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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