An artistic young man struggles to escape the shadow of his emotionally manipulative mother and pursue a meaningful relationship of his own.
Sons and Lovers (1960)
Directed by Jack Cardiff
Written by Gavin Lambert and T.E.B. Clarke
Starring Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller, Trevor Howard,
Mary Ure, Heather Sears, William Lucas, Conrad Phillips
Based on the novel by D.H. Lawrence
Oscar Wins - Best Cinematography
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Trevor Howard),
Best Supporting Actress (Mary Ure), Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction
Sons and Lovers is a melancholic movie that stabs the idea of love right in the face but doesn't have enough substance to back up its bold claims. Our hero is a man with no idea of what love is really supposed to feel like because his mother has been so overbearing and manipulative of him his entire life. Now he's wandering aimlessly, afraid of his emotions and choosing not to feel them out of fear of "being owned" by someone. It's a downer to say the least, but perhaps the worst crime of all, it's boring. We don't have any emotional connection to these characters, and the story has very little connecting thread from scene to scene. It just jumps around and expects us to come along for the ride.
Paul Morel (Stockwell) is an artist whose mother (Hiller) has controlled his entire life since day one. No woman is good enough for him, and marriage is a dreadful contract that he must participate in because it's expected. His father (Howard, who somehow got top billing) is a depressed drunk with very little to say about it apart from "I'm miserable and it's everyone else's fault." Paul tries to get away and start his own life, but ends up falling for a married woman (Ure) who manipulates him for sex. Throughout all of it, the only question I was asking is "Why should I care about any of this?" When it was over, I didn't know the answer.
Sons and Lovers is a dismal look into the most dreary aspects of love and marriage, and it brings up a number of questions regarding parenting as well. Raise your children and prepare them for the world, but don't force them to live their lives your way. All it does is make screwed up adults who don't understand their emotions and end up as complete basket cases. This film should not have gotten the Oscar attention it got at the very least. Despite all this, the performances are decent.