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Fathers, Sons And The Family Dynamics Haunting This Year’s Film Releases

Noah Jupe and Shia LaBeouf star in
Noah Jupe and Shia LaBeouf star in "Honey Boy"

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Dysfunctional families have long been ripe material for film. Tense dinner scenes are a mainstay in dramas and comedies alike, often used as sites of generational strife and cultural impasse. 

Yet this season’s film releases seem to be grappling with familial relationships in more central, complicated ways. Critic Randee Dawn writes in the Los Angeles Times about how “Waves,” “Ad Astra,” “Rocketman,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Honey Boy” and to some extent the comedy “Knives Out” all contend with the profound legacy that strained familial relationships can have long into a person’s adult life. Several of these films take up the dynamic between fathers and sons as a means for grappling with masculinity and violence. Others explore families more broadly, delving into topics like inheritance, duty and unconditional love. This week on FilmWeek, our critics discuss some of the most important family relationships depicted in film. 

What films do you think have captured powerful familial relationships? Do you think there are wider cultural reasons compelling filmmakers to explore the family this year? Let us know in the comments or call us at 866-893-5722.


Randee Dawn, freelance writer for The Los Angeles Times Envelope, which covers awards shows year round for the newspaper; her latest article is “Father-son relationships play out in many movies this season, but rarely pleasantly”; she tweets @randeedawn

Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC and president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA); she tweets @ClaudiaPuig

Peter Rainer, film critic for KPCC and the Christian Science Monitor

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine