Staff & contributors

From the director of Once and Sing Street comes Dublin-set Flora and Son, part love letter to music, part not-so-slick advertisement for Apple’s GarageBand. Eve Hewson plays the titular single mother, whose wayward 14-year-old son Max (Orén Kinlan) is one more slip-up away from being sent to youth detention. In an attempt to find an outlet for his unruly teenage energy, she salvages a beat-up guitar, but after he rejects it, there's nothing to do but give it a go herself — cue her belated moment of self-discovery.

Max’s anonymity in the title makes sense, then, because this is much more Flora’s story. However, while Hewson pours energy into the role, she can’t quite transcend the script's limits: Flora’s initial unlikeability (a little too emphatic), and the awkward attempts to roughen up a feel-good story with unconvincingly gritty elements. The film seems aware of audience expectations for a Carney joint, too, so it skips convincing dynamics and fleshed-out supporting characters in its rush to deliver musical setpieces (which never quite reach the catchy heights of Sing Street’s earworms, unfortunately). Still, there's real charm — and some compelling ideas about the magic of music — in here, especially once the film gets past its shaky first third and unabashedly embraces its feel-good heart.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music

Actor: Ailbhe Cowley, Aislín McGuckin, Amy Huberman, Don Wycherley, Eve Hewson, Jack Reynor, Joni Mitchell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Katy Perry, Keith McErlean, Kelly Thornton, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Marcella Plunkett, Marcus Lamb, Margarita Murphy, Orén Kinlan, Paul Reid, Sophie Vavasseur

Director: John Carney

Rating: R