Florian Zeller’s ‘The Son,’ starring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, and Zen McGrath, is a family drama film that focuses on the relationship between a father and his son. Following a rough divorce between Peter and Kate, Peter quickly marries his second wife, Beth, and starts a family with her. However, when Peter’s older teenage son, Nicholas, moves out of Kate’s house and into his dad’s, Peter has to find a way to make space for Nicholas in his new life. At the same time, Nicholas’s undiagnosed clinical depression worsens with the move.
By basing the film around Peter, who works through his role as both someone’s father and someone’s son, the film dives into themes of generational trauma and how it pertains to fatherhood. Likewise, through Nicholas’s character, the narrative shines an important light on mental health issues of depression and suicide among teenagers. The end credits of ‘The Son’ dedicate the film to Gabriel. Therefore, viewers might want to learn more about Gabriel and his connection to the film. If so, here is everything we know about Gabriel from ‘The Son’s’ tribute.
Who Is Gabriel?
Before the film’s credit start rolling in, a dedication appears “To Gabriel.” The tribute is reminiscent of Peter’s daydream at the film’s climax, where he imagines Nicholas has written a book dedicated to his father. As such, the ending tribute effortlessly mirrors a key moment from the film and establishes itself as a significant detail. The Gabriel mentioned in the film’s credits is Gabriel Ecoffey, Florian Zeller’s stepson.
Florian Zeller wrote and directed ‘The Son,’ based on his 2018 Parisian play, originally titled ‘Le Fils.’ The play deals with the same central conflict of a depressed teenager’s attempts at reconnecting with his distant father that is found within the film. As such, it’s clear that Zeller values the importance of depicting realistic teenage depression in his art and wants to bring attention to it.
“We need to be comfortable talking about it [mental illness], remembering that we are not alone on this journey, that we’re all in the same boat, that it’s not shameful to have a crisis and to ask for help,” Zeller said in an interview. The theme of mental illness is a personal issue for Zeller. With ‘The Son,’ Zeller wanted to remove the stigma and social taboo surrounding mental health by looking at it through a raw and authentic lens.
While discussing his decision to pay tribute to his son, Gabriel, in ‘The Son,’ Zeller said, “I am familiar with these emotions and not a stranger to some of these situations. As a parent, I experienced powerlessness – I remember feeling like you are the only one in that situation.”
However, Zeller’s decision to include Gabriel in the film’s final narrative was not one lightly made. Zeller wondered if such exposure would be too heavy for his stepson. Nevertheless, in the spirit of removing the shame surrounding mental illness, Zeller ultimately decided to be transparent.
At first glance, it is clear that the relationship between Zeller and Gabriel is different than the father-son relationship that forms the focus of ‘The Son.’ Gabriel is the son of Zeller’s wife, Marine Delterme, a French actress. Therefore, even though ‘The Son’ is not a biographical account of Zeller and Gabriel’s relationship, it’s primarily dedicated to Gabriel as a sign of immense love and support.
Moreover, the tribute is not the only way Zeller chose to include his son, Gabriel Ecoffey, in the film. Throughout the film, a French intern makes an appearance a few times. Gabriel plays the role of this intern. Hence, in the movie, Gabriel represents Zeller’s personal connection to the story while referencing ‘The Son’s’ original French roots as well.
Read More: Where Was The Son Filmed?