American Son (Film Review)

She was the Queen of Spin, the right hand woman of the President for seven seasons.  She was another strong powerful character from the world of ‘Shondaland’ in the stable of diverse characters ever to hit the smallscreen forever changing the ‘whtiewashed’ rechurn of television drama.   Olivia Pope was a master negotiator and fixer.

So it’s difficult not to compare Kerry Washington’s portrayal of broadway character, Kendra to Olivia who is just as brazen, opinionated and articulately fierce in the Netflix Original that began screening last week.  It’s also difficult not to draw parrallels if you’ve never seen the theatre production as this could very well be a fast forward into Fitz and Olivia’s love story post-Scandal with a message still holding much relevance today.

It’s a film that captivates from the opening scenes at such high intensity without burning out as we watch the intermingling of four characters.  It demonstrates a clear lag in the way this topic is handled at dealt with here in Australia.  It’s confronting and it’s spectacularly written.  Steven Pasquale is the perfect pairing, a household name in theatre (Miss Saigon, The Bridges of Madison County) carrying the role of Kendra’s estranged husband Scott with assertion from it’s original theatre form into the television adaptation.

There are three intertwined plots that unravel while layering the suspense – a missing child, adultery and racial discrimination couched in sub plots of social class and injustice which Jeremy Jordan‘s character (Officer Paul Larkin) is the main catalyst for.  Not all is black and white with the failed interracial relationship between Kendra and Scott, nor the assumption of predjudice when it comes to delving into the friction surrounding police authority through Officer Paul Larkin and Lieutenant John Stokes (Eugene Lee) when added into the mix at key points.

Every angle of the themes raised are satisfyingly explored from all directions with explosive confrontations, deep contemplation and gripping drama.  What’s striking about the script is its ability to draw us to invest heavily in the fifth character who is never on screen and stirring emotion with it’s still shocking (even though possibly anticipated) conclusion.

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Credit:  Denis Makarenko

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