The Son (2023) Ending, Explained: Does Nicholas Kill Himself?

Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Son’ Ending, Explained – Florian Zeller’s film “The Son,” featuring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, and Zen McGrath in leading roles, centres around a father’s efforts to help his mentally ill son, Nicholas. Peter enjoys professional success, evident from his spacious office and packed schedule of business meetings. He has his wife, newborn baby Theo, and his mother at home, who helps with the business meetings. However, when his ex-wife visits, his seemingly perfect life quickly unravels.

Kate, Nicholas’s mother, approached Peter for guidance regarding his prolonged absence from school. She noticed his distant behaviour and unsettling stare, which made her feel threatened. Kate hoped Peter could communicate with their son to identify any causes behind his lack of enthusiasm for schooling.

Parental concerns and managing children’s mental health become central themes in “The Son.” The film delves into family dynamics and conflicts associated with navigating such situations. Through its engaging storyline and talented cast, “The Son” sheds light on individuals and families coping with mental illness while simultaneously cultivating understanding and empathy among audiences.

What Is The Son Film All About

What Is “The Son” Film All About?

Peter takes the time for an emotional conversation with Nicholas to assess what caused his sudden mood change. Nicholas can provide no valid reason for skipping classes other than feeling overwhelmed and needing time alone. Instead of going to school, he often wandered aimlessly through the city in search of solace. Although Nicholas wants to make positive changes, he feels overwhelmed and unsure how best to do it.

As Nicholas realizes the extent of his stress on his mother, he makes the difficult decision to move in with Peter and his new family. This presents some difficulty for Peter as he already has one young child at home. Beth, Peter’s partner, has reservations about accommodating a teenager, but she recognizes its significance for Peter and makes an exception for this situation.

Enrolling Nicholas in a new school becomes a priority for Peter, and he guides him toward class celebrations, hoping to steer him in the right direction. However, instead of realizing that despair can have multiple causes, Peter relentlessly searches for the specific trigger of Nicholas’s unusual behaviour, neglecting to provide proper treatment based on Nicholas’s mental health needs. Despite all his best efforts at being the perfect father, he fails to recognize signs of despair in his child’s eyes.

Nicholas is deeply affected by his parent’s divorce. He struggles to accept his father’s decision to start a new family with someone else after abandoning his mother and him. While together, Nicholas felt completeness and security, but now that they have separated, he feels lost and confused. Witnessing their family life change due to their separation causes emotional turmoil within his household, leaving Nicholas yearning for the days when both his parents were together and recalling fond moments of shared contentment as children.

Peter had experienced his father being distant throughout much of his upbringing, prioritizing professional endeavours over familial responsibilities. Even as an adult, Peter struggles with feelings of abandonment and lack of support from his father as his primary parent. Committed to becoming the best parent possible for his son, Peter makes an extra effort to make career sacrifices so his child can flourish. Unfortunately, fatherhood is difficult to work without guaranteeing positive results from every sacrifice made.

Navigating the complexities of parenthood and family dynamics can be a challenging journey filled with unexpected challenges and difficult decisions. Peter’s experiences and his relationship with Nicholas illuminate these emotional intricacies of family life while emphasizing the significance of understanding, communication, and support within a family unit.

Peter Is a Bad Father for Nicholas Miller

Peter Is a Bad Father for Nicholas Miller?

Peter (Hugh Jackman) attempts to connect with his son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) but soon finds that he lacks knowledge about his interests, and Nicholas doesn’t appear willing to open up and share. Peter finds it challenging to dedicate the necessary time and attention to Nicholas, creating tension with Beth, who becomes uncomfortable around Nicholas and resentful when Peter cancels plans to spend more time with him.

As Peter becomes aware of Nicholas’ history of suicidal thoughts and depression, his concerns deepen. Peter finds it distressing that he hasn’t managed to form a close bond with his adolescent son, as evidenced by his failed attempts at teaching Nicholas to dance and his neglect of Nicholas for more time spent on Beth.

Beth and Nicholas find themselves at odds as tensions escalate after Nicholas overhears her expressing her disinclination for him to care for their baby, further straining the already tenuous family dynamics. These conflicts exacerbate an already delicate dynamic.

Peter must find a way to reconcile his conflicting priorities, repair his relationship with both his son and partner, and create harmony within their family unit. Achieving this objective requires open communication, empathy, and a willingness to address any underlying issues.

Anthony Hopkins in the son film

Does ‘The Son’ Feature Anthony Hopkins?

Anthony Hopkins won his second Best Actor Oscar for his exceptional performance in Florian Zeller’s film “The Father.” Hopkins also appeared in Zeller’s third instalment, “The Son,” playing Anthony, Peter’s father, who is retired and suffering from dementia. Due to their thematic similarities, some critics speculated that Zeller intended “The Son” to act as an introduction to “The Father,” possibly part of a spiritual trilogy with the 2015 premiere of “The Mother.”

“The Son” depicts events before Anthony’s dementia progresses into its more advanced state, as depicted in “The Father.” There are subtle clues throughout both films suggesting that Hopkins may play the same character, establishing continuity while exploring familial dynamics.

Early in the film, Peter casually mentions Anthony’s mental illness to a coworker, implying their tenuous relationship. On their visit together, Peter and Anthony engage in a heated argument due to both taking neglectful approaches to parenting themselves. Peter believes he has learned nothing from Anthony about parenting from their memories of him during their own childhoods. Anthony reacts angrily, creating further distance between them and leading Peter to end their relationship altogether.

This heated dialogue shows that Peter and Anthony are struggling with each other due to different parenting styles and unresolved past issues. As their relationship unfolds, it delves deeper into family dynamics, parental influence, and the emotional scarring caused by unhealed wounds.

The Son Ending Explained

“The Son” Ending Explained: Does Nicholas Die?

Nicholas uses self-injurious behaviour as an emotional outlet. After an altercation with Peter, Nicholas attempts suicide, but Beth finds him unconscious before it can happen and hospitalizes him instead. Peter and Kate quickly drive Nicholas to a hospital, where the doctor assures them he is in stable condition. A psychiatrist recommends admitting him into a facility to address his mental health needs, as they fear for his safety due to his severe sadness, which poses a danger to himself and others. Recognizing the gravity of their situation, Peter and Kate heed the doctor’s advice and decide to postpone their visit in hopes that it will prove helpful for Nicholas.

Peter struggles to accept that he has not been the ideal parent his son deserves, seeing in himself how his behaviour mimicked that of his own father when he was growing up. He regrets not being different or more accepting of Nicholas and acknowledges the unknowable impact he had on Nicholas’s life. Nicholas’s situation also takes its toll on Peter and Beth’s relationship. Peter’s intense focus on caring for Nicholas causes neglect of family obligations, while Beth understands Peter’s predicament but feels helpless without her partner’s constant help caring for their son.

At one of his visits, Nicholas requests that Peter and Kate take him home immediately from the institution, refusing to comply with Dr. Aguirre’s continuous observation and medication recommendations. Nicholas denies any illness and desires his homecoming above any other place. According to Dr. Aguirre, due to severe depression, it is crucial not to leave him home alone for too long. Nevertheless, Nicholas still hopes that they will witness his progress and believe he can lead a “normal” life once more.

Doctors have advised the parents to make an immediate decision regarding Nicholas. Peter agrees with their medical authority and decides to bring Nicholas home immediately from the institution, feeling bad about how troubled he appeared upon hearing of their decision. He can never shake the image of how upset Nicholas was upon hearing this news. Peter has always felt pressure to demonstrate himself as an effective parent, fearing that any decision might reflect negatively upon him in retrospect. So he returns to the institution, hoping that Nicholas has truly changed and deserves trust again.

Nicholas feels relief being back in his own space, celebrating having both parents reunited again. This brings back fond childhood memories. However, as Nicholas prepares to see a movie with Kate, a sudden gunshot shocks both Peter and Kate. Nicholas had obtained a gun from Peter’s father years earlier, which he used to take his own life. Nicholas has struggled with worsening mental health for some time now, and perhaps those final moments with both parents served as a comforting reminder from when they were children, making the decision easier for him.

Peter is profoundly shaken by Nicholas’ death, never fully recovering from it, and left grieving forever. He holds himself responsible for failing as a parent and deeply blames himself. Nicholas found comfort in imagining alternate scenarios in which he could have saved him. His ultimate hope had been for Nicholas to appreciate him as a parent, but this day never came. Peter most fondly remembers teaching Nicholas how to swim, recalling how Nicholas initially was scared but eventually trusted his father more and opened up more fully.

Unfortunately, even with that skill taught by Peter, it couldn’t prepare Nicholas for the challenges of adulthood. Peter greatly misses his sense of achievement on that fateful day and blames himself for Nicholas’s untimely demise. Though Peter now has a wife and another child to care for, Nicholas will always remain in his heart. Peter feels responsible for Nicholas’s untimely passing, while the film “The Son” had immense potential to become something great. Unfortunately, its storyline prevented it from fully realizing this potential.

Nicholas’s struggle with mental illness and its devastating consequences deeply touches us in this powerful film. It explores the complexity of parenthood, unspoken expectations, and their influence on children’s lives while also highlighting the importance of supporting individuality while managing a mental illness.

Anthony Hopkins, as Peter, gives a remarkable and compelling performance as he navigates his way through a complex and agonizing experience, battling perceived failures and grief over the loss that ensued. This film highlights the need to recognize and address mental health issues among children, as well as the importance of understanding, support, and effective interventions.

“The Son” is an insightful reminder of life’s fragility, the profound effect parental relationships can have, and the suffering caused by unhealed emotional wounds. It encourages audiences to reflect upon how parents influence their children’s lives while underscoring the importance of compassion, open communication, and professional assistance when facing mental health challenges.

Though The Son’s narrative may have a limited scope in fully exploring all the complexities of its characters and relationships, its emotional resonance and powerful themes leave an impactful legacy with audiences. Despite tragic circumstances, it serves as a poignant reminder about the importance of empathy, love, and understanding within families.

“The Son” tells a poignant and tragic tale about the struggles and battles with mental illness experienced by both father and son and its lasting repercussions in their fractured relationship. This tragic narrative creates intense emotions, forcing us to confront life’s fragility and unaddressed mental health issues with great urgency.

Also Read: MGM + ‘The Portable Door’ (2023) Ending, Explained!

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Olivia Wilson
Olivia Wilson
Olivia Wilson is the senior news writer for TV Acute. She spends too much money on collectables and is enamored with movies, comics, and television series. She loves binge-watching and can spend hours talking about movies and TV shows. She can immerse herself into a good story no matter the genre or form and only come out from it when she's had her fill. When she's not writing, she's probably cooking or exploring new places. You can follow her daily exploits on Twitter and Facebook.

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