A Son (2019)

100% – Critics
57% – Audience

A Son Storyline

When driving home from southern Tunisia, Fares and Meriem’s car is hit by a stray bullet during an ambush by an armed group; their young son Aziz’s liver is punctured. At a local hospital, the need for a transplant uncovers a secret that risks Aziz’s life should a donor not be found in time. But this is only the beginning of the unexpected twists in a story so deftly crafted that it offers both a probing look at Tunisian society’s anchored social and legal realities, and an unshakable need to ask yourself what you would do in the same situation. As their world falls apart, the subtleties of the couple’s shifting emotions are handled masterfully, heralding Mehdi Barsaoui as a bold new talent to watch.—London Film Festival

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A Son Movie Reviews

An emotionally exhausting tale

Also seen this film on the big screen at the Marrakesh film Festival, i really Liked it if you love Asghar Farhadi films this one is a must see.

Solid film from a new voice in Arab cinema

If you enjoy Asghar farhadi’s films, then this is the right film for you. The script follows exactly the method of an unfortunate accident causing turmoil and chaos in a seemingly healthy family and then things start becoming interesting, secrets deeply buried surface, old forgotten grudges start to poke and so on.

Even though it’s a directorial debut of Mehdi Barsaoui, The film is really well made, there are some scenes that you would only expect from masters of filmmaking. Without trying to spoil any parts of the story, my only issue was that the film puts finger on so many conflicts, whether political, cultural or religion related in a rather short runtime (96 minutes) and the inevitable is that many ascepts, some really important ones, are left out or just briefly mentioned. I think this is caused by the ambitious mentality of the director as he tried do to score as high as possible. Yet still this is a good film from a new voice.

The pursuit of life

A Son (Bik Eneich/Un Fils) is a feature film debut from Tunisian filmmaker Mehdi M. Barsaoui. The film premiered in the Horizons (Orrizonti) section of the Venice Film Festival. During the year the film won a number of awards. Having been presented in Venice, it was also honored at the Cairo Film Festival, Hainan and Hamburg.

It is a story of the members of one family whose lives fall into pieces. However, it does not mean they cannot be rescued. In Japan, there is a special art of repairing broken pottery called Kintsugi. It is all about searching for excellence in imperfection. It teaches us that we do not need to disguise anything; on the contrary, we must learn to accept the flaws.

And this is exactly how the couple, Fares and Meriem, tries to come to terms with each other’s imperfections and rebuild their own lives.

They look like an average family raising their son, vacationing in the city with friends and loving each other.

They are the representatives of the Tunisian middle class, Europeanized inhabitants of the Muslim country. They have been influenced by the progressive views of the Western countries, their cooperation with the foreigners and, in general, rather liberal views in their home country.

However, only time can show how much they cling to the traditions.

From the very first minutes of the film, the director gradually speeds up the action. Then he suddenly hits the brakes and the slow-paced life of the main characters is abruptly ended by the deafening shots of the rebel fighters. They encounter them on their way back home. It has been safe… up until recently.

It becomes the starting point of the hardships that await them. First of all, Meriem’s infidelity is revealed. It mercilessly hurts the spouse, destroys the love and trust of the young couple.

It seems that there cannot be the ‘right’ moment to tell such bitter truth. Yet, the painful truth seeped into Fares’ and Meriem’s lives at the most inopportune moment.

Sometimes circumstances do everything instead of us. Fares finds out about his wife’s affair from a doctor.

However, Aziz’s parents have to put their argument on the back burner, as they have more serious reasons to be nervous – their young son needs a liver transplant.

The situation is getting worse each day. The days are getting darker and darker. Each person is left with their own fears, insults and remorse. There is no donor, and, therefore, no rescue. At least, there is no morally right and legal way to find it.

The main heroes are desperate, outraged and petrified. Such feelings can pervade anybody who feels that they are unable to change anything. As a result, Fares and Meriem begin to fight for the life of their son and their family – each of them do it in their own manner.

Undoubtedly, miracles in real life hardy ever occur. However, no one would take their time trying to rescue their nearest and dearest. They are likely to seek opportunities and take risks.

While Meriem is desperately trying to find Aziz’s biological father, Fares is unexpectedly offered the so-called ‘help’.

He has received an offer to use illegally obtained liver transplant. After all, in the neighboring country due to the military confrontation people die like flies every day. The main thing is to transport the liver in time, so that Aziz can survive.

The father is torn between the desire to save his son and doubts concerning the ethics of such decision-making. He has to take on the responsibility and figure out whether he can carry on living having made such a choice.

In fact, not really far away from the point where doctors fight for Aziz’s life, there is a base where children are ‘dismantled’ into organs.

When the given business appears to be under the threat of exposure, criminals simply flee with injured children to another place. They destroy all the documents and traces of their presence, in the same way as the SS-men did fleeing the Auschwitz and other death camps.

The place where the children are held is also a kind of a death camp. The deep scars on their bodies as well as the missing organs they gave to people who wanted to be alive at all costs remind us of that.

Despite his debut, Mehdi M. Barsaoui managed to show the tragedy of one family in the context of the Tunisian society. He brought to light important topics of their own identity, closed society, family values, confrontation of the rational and fanatical, and last but not least, the mistakes made as well as the punishment they can result in.

The director presents an integral, deep and complete story of struggle and hope.

Fares and Meriem together tackle the problems they encounter on their way, since it is impossible to fight separately against the disease that wants to take their son from them.

Even the disease itself can cure, but solely the hearts. The wounds will heal over time and everything will come full circle.