Nowhere Special (2020)

Movie Info

Movie Info

Uberto Pasolini
Run Time
1 hour and 36 minutes
Not Rated

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★★5 out of 5

Relevant Quotes

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.

I Corinthians 13:4 (The Message)
One of many ways that the father & son enjoy being together. (c) Cohen Media Group

Writer/director Uberto Pasolini gives us one of the most poignant father-son films you are likely to see this year—or any year. What could have become a maudlin tear jerker turns out to be a glowing tribute to fatherhood—and be prepared also to enjoy the best non-cutesy child actor since 3-year-old Victoire Thivisol set the screen aglow in 1996’s Ponette!

35-year-old John (James Norton) works as a window cleaner in Northern Ireland. A single father, he is the sole caretaker of 4-year-old, Michael (Daniel Lamont), a lively and sometimes headstrong by because his Russian wife abruptly returned to her native land shortly after Michael’s birth and leaving no contact information. When we join the pair, John is interviewing families  who might adopt his boy. Sometime in the recent past he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. As he moves from household to household, assisted by the caring agency worker Shona (Eileen O’Higgins’), he finds his task difficult. The families are very different—some childless, one an interracial couple with several children already, one a single would-be mother. John, never feeling quite right after an interview, shares his doubts with Shona and her equally compassionate superior at the adoption agency. The boy always sits in on the interviews but is too young to understand the adults’ conversation.

There are a number of quotidian details that draw us in to the father and son. At breakfast John gets on Michael because he is spilling Cheerios onto the table. The spoon-equipped boy pushes one more little O off his plate. John washes his car, and Michael washes his toy truck. They grocery shop together; stop at an overpass to watch the traffic pass below. Michael’s lesson in counting consists of his putting 34 candles onto his father’s birthday cake. They enjoy riding a bumper car at an amusement park and win a prize at a tossing game. At bedtime Hohn reads a storybook to Michael, though he refuses to take up the famous dealing with death book, suggested by the agency When Dinosaurs Die. He also is reluctant to make a “memory box” that will provide the older Michael some idea of what his deceased father was like. As John watches another father walk his son to school, his eyes are wistful because he knows he will never get to do that. Michael has a tantrum because his favorite pjs are in the wash. The way John handles his son’s refusal to put on a new pair with loving tactfulness is inspiring.

The rapport between adult actor James Norton and child actor Daniel Lamont is remarkable, with credit due also to director Pasolini in the case of the child’s performance. Lamont, as I indicated near the beginning of this review, is the most natural young performer that I have seen since 1996’s Ponette. If ever there was a father embodying the apostle Paul’s “Love cares more for others than for self,” it is John. He finally does prepare a “memory box” as he writes a short letter and inserts it into a labeled envelope. Most of the stages in Michael’s future life are addressed, including  “To Be Opened When You’ve Passed Your Driving Test.” We can only hope that these missives from the past will let the boy know how much he was loved and how reluctantly he was given up.

The film might move slowly for child members of the family, but I nonetheless recommend it for those whose parents are willing to expose their school-age children to death and its implications. Indeed, this would make a good film o watch on Fathers Day!

This review will be in the June issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

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