Sometimes a movie comes out that’s flawed but so damn magical that it doesn’t matter. The latest from director John Carney is precisely that. It should quickly become the feel-good sleeper hit of 2023. Don’t believe me? Watch it until the first video call between the lovable Eve Hewson (Becky from the criminally under-watched BAD SISTERS) and the criminally under-utilized Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you don’t fall for Carney’s latest, there isn’t any way we will ever be able to “Meet in the Middle” with our movie tastes.
Before I continue my “High Life” review of FLORA AND SON, let’s take a step back and talk about John f*ckin’ Carney. I don’t usually cuss, but after hearing the swearing in his work, it felt ironically appropriate. This director has made four outstanding musicals and doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. From stealing our hearts with street musicians in ONCE (also adapted into a fantastic Broadway play). Then, in the love letter to New York, BEGIN AGAIN, he turned Keira Knightley into a remarkable singer and muse. And let’s not forget his best, SING STREET, which is easily in my top twenty films of all time. SING STREET continues to be the mixtape I turn to whenever I want to remember high school love, but more importantly, the deep bond between siblings. It’s sheer perfection.
Alright, I’ll stop “Talking to You” about John Carney’s past and flash forward to his latest gem. There are movies where characters are so likable and real that you want to continue spending time with them long after the credits roll. In FLORA, we get four flawed leads. And with each of them, we want to know more. There’s the titular character trying to figure out what type of mom she will be for her lost son (Orén Kinlan) while also dealing with her complicated love life. And her ex/the kid’s dad, who is played by the best big brother from SING STREET, Jack Reynor. As the characters sing differently, it’s how they tune up that will have audiences fall for them.
But what makes it all work is Eve Hewson in a star-making performance. I knew she was good after BAD SISTERS, but I didn’t think she was this good. Keep an eye on her as she’ll star in director Nia DaCosta’s (CANDYMAN and THE MARVELS) next feature, HEDDA.
Please stop what you’re doing and watch the most likable film of 2023 on Apple TV+ now.