Flora and Son – Sundance 2023

A still from Flora and Son by John Carney, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Eve Hewson turns in a stupendous performance as John Carney makes movie magic once again in the new music-driven Flora and Son.

There are good films and there are great films. What we have here is a 94-minute film that everyone will fall in love with. Whether it’s Once, Begin Again, or Sing Street, John Carney knows what he’s doing. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ve been going to Sundance since January 2018. What I can say for certain is that Flora and Son follows a solid line of music-driven feel-good crowd pleasers on the mountain in Park City including Hearts Beat Loud and CODA. Fans were clapping along during the final song and gave the film a standing ovation when it ended. Whichever distributor acquires the new Carney film not only has a hit on their hands but an Oscar-worthy performance from Eve Hewson. It is not an understatement to say how excellent the actress is in this film.

Flora (Eve Hewson) is a single mother with a troublemaking teenage son, Max (Orén Kinlan). Max has found himself in trouble with the law yet again so Flora takes matters into her own hands. She finds an old guitar in a dumpster on her way home from work. It’s seen better days so she takes it in to get refurbished before gifting it to Max. However, Max isn’t having any of it as he is living in his old world of electronic music. Flora searches for guitar lessons online before deciding to take virtual lessons with Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). If you know anything about John Carney movies, a deep friendship forms between them and shows just how powerful that music can be. Flora’s lessons and talks with Jeff prove to be beneficial with Max.

As amazing as Eve Hewson is in the film, Orén Kinlan is sure to breakout as a result of the film. Much like Hewson and the accolades coming her way, the young actor deserves every accolade that he is going to receive for his performance. Sing Street‘s Jack Reynor rounds out the cast as Flora’s ex, Ian. Everyone in the cast is amazing, really. Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt even join Carney and Gary Clark in composing some of the film’s tunes. “The High Life” is the standout song and could very well earn an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

There’s something special about attending world premieres at Sundance, maybe even more than the other film festivals. When it comes to TIFF, indie films are competing for attention with the studio Oscar contenders. As for Sundance, it’s a special thing when cinephiles and industry travel to the cold of Park City for several days and kick off the new film season. This year, you could feel the magic with Main Street being alive once again. Things were most certainly alive once again in The Ray when magic spread all around the theater for a magical crowd pleaser. While many Sundance films are being offered virtually, Flora and Son is among a few that are exclusively in person. The film is an acquisition title and I expect a bidding war to take place. Again, any studio acquiring this film has an Oscar contender on their hands.

Flora and Son is a feel-good crowd-pleaser and one of the best pictures of the year.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: John Carney
CAST: Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Orén Kinlan, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Flora and Son holds its world premiere during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres program. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.