Film Review: Our Son (2023)

Billy Porter and Luke Evans lead Our Son, a gay divorce and custody battle drama which proves unexpectedly poignant

“I couldn’t do this without you”

As rather amusingly pointed out by an unthinking teenager here, the battle for marriage equality also led to the arrival of divorce equality. Nicky and Gabriel have been together for more than 13 years and share 8-year-old poppet Owen, born via surrogate. Nicky is the biological father but Gabriel is the stay-at-home dad and, as it turns out, the one having a bit on the side. When a small fight turns into a big fight, Gabriel decides to file for divorce and an almighty battle for custody ensues.

Written by Peter Nickowitz and Bill Oliver and directed by the latter too, Our Son follows this well-heeled Brooklyn couple from that point of disintegration through to the other side, as each man retreats to his family for comfort, reassesses the friend group to see who has landed in each camp, and looks into themselves to reaffirm what kind of parent they currently are and decide what kind of parent they want to be. Added into this is the prism of sexuality, does it make any difference here?

What’s fascinating to me is the depiction of Nicky and Gabriel as such a heteronormative family unit. Nicky works hard and late, Gabriel does yoga and doesn’t work, they’ve queer friends but little queerness in their lives – a natural consequence of parenthood perhaps? Since the film shows us nothing of their relationship before this crisis point, there’s a little bit of a question mark over them as a credible couple who’ve been together this long but are now at this point.

Luke Evans is painfully convincing as Nicky, blindsided at the grenade detonated in his life and only slowly coming to terms with what these changes will mean to his life. Billy Porter could stand to rein in his expansiveness just a touch as it threatens to take us out of the world of the film, but he’s genuinely moving at times too. Christopher Woodley is sweet as Owen, torn one way and the other, and Phylicia Rashad and Kate Burton have great cameos as loving mothers to the warring exes.

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