Our Son, directed by Bill Oliver is an intimate study of a gay couple’s marriage which seems to be on its last legs. The movie studies the complexities of divorce and its impact on a family. The film’s strength had to be its openness to explore the various issues regarding gay parenthood and what happens when the couple decides to divorce which culminates in a fight for custody. Bill Oliver, who co-wrote this film with Peter Nickowitz, is interested in the nitty gritties of the everyday life of a gay couple that struggles with parenting. Our Son is so sincere with its subject that it could be listed with films like Marriage Story, which had a similar story about a divorcing couple. Here, the dynamics of a gay couple are not explored in an exploitative way but are organically weaved into the story to create drama out of the straightforward plot. Our Son is a simple story which never becomes simplistic. It brings to us an earnest tale that isn’t often told in an honest manner.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
The story begins by showing us the simple family of Gabriel, Nicky, and their son Owen. Like in any other marriage, there were issues here as well, but Gabriel and Nicky seemed to be dealing with them quite efficiently. When the family is presented to us, we are not able to figure out immediately that there is a problem. Soon, in this marriage of 13 years, the cracks seem to appear like they were present all along and the situation culminates in a divorce. Poor Owen suffers as Gabriel and Nicky are not able to come to terms with giving Owen’s custody to the other.
How Did Gabriel And Nicky Have Owen?
Nicky and Gabriel were helped by a friend Adele as she agreed to be the egg donor. They had then approached an agency helping gay couples become parents through surrogacy. A woman named Penny agreed to be the surrogate mother and thus Nicky and Gabriel’s dream of being parents was fulfilled. The plan was always to have two kids, one from Nicky and the other from Gabriel. But Gabriel’s surrogate had a miscarriage and he was too traumatized to try the process again. Raising Owen was enough to pour all their love into parenting but it was also causing some issues.
Why Did Gabriel Part Ways With Nicky?
When Nicky met Gabriel, he was a struggling actor and Nicky was on his way to becoming a book publisher. Now Nicky was so busy in his work, that Gabriel was left feeling like he was raising Owen alone. Not only that, he was behaving quite aloof in the relationship and there was a sense that he didn’t love Owen as much as Gabriel did. The issue came up constantly in subtle ways, like when Owen came to sleep in their bed and Nicky got irked about Gabriel’s parenting. Perhaps seeing it as Nicky’s attempt to get closer to Gabriel would be more apt. The marriage had lost the spark as Gabriel was not just Nicky’s husband, but Owen’s father as well. He had more duties now and Nicky wasn’t present enough to see them. Nicky was preoccupied with his work and his resentments were growing as he thought that it was Gabriel who was distancing himself and never paying attention to Nicky’s demands. The couple were in therapy once, and it was there that they must have made a pact that if one of the partners wanted to move away and try something different, the other would have to help. But the conditions weren’t such that Gabriel could reveal that he had been cheating on Nicky. Gabriel was overwhelmed, and given that he had sacrificed his entire career to raise Owen and given Nicky was mostly preoccupied with work, Gabriel made a choice to see other people. He finally revealed that he was seeing a man named Will. One thing led to another and Nicky had to face the fact that their marriage of 13 years would end in divorce.
How Did Gabriel And Nicky Reconcile?
After sharing the news of seeing Will, Gabriel moved out of the house and moved into his own apartment. He couldn’t think clearly while Nicky’s judgmental eyes were on him. Nicky thought there was a chance that they would resolve all conflicts and be a happy family again, but it wasn’t going to happen. There was too much pent-up resentment and one had to change radically to show that they could change. There is no point discussing who the better parent was, but Nicky was of the opinion that Gabriel was indeed the better parent. His lawyer Pam was advising him not to be hasty with giving the custody over to Gabriel.
Nicky’s position has to be understood as someone who didn’t have a clue what was going on around him. He was always into his work and all the news of the infidelity and the divorce came as an overwhelming shock to him, which is perhaps why he became emotionally dysregulated. He took Gabriel’s decision to part ways too personally and that is why he was acting vengeful when it came to Owen’s custody. Nicky was advised not to take matters to court where nasty things would have to be revealed about Gabriel to make him look like the ‘bad’ parent. The truth was that Nicky might love Owen just as much as Gabriel but he didn’t have the skills to raise him as well as Gabriel would. He learned it the hard way, when he tried to do everything Gabriel used to do. He played with Owen, made him breakfast, and took him to school. But even after all this he had to depend on silly video games to keep Owen engaged.
Gabriel was enlightened by his mother who told him that his relationship with Nicky was turning sour unnecessarily because of ‘transference’. Gabriel had a pretty bad relationship with his emotionally reserved father. Gabriel didn’t have any connection to him and according to his mother, he wanted Nicky to behave in the same way – cold and distant – like Gabriel’s father. All Gabriel wanted was to have a connection with his father and perhaps this was how he was achieving it. The court case for Owen’s custody had commenced, and even though both the parties were feeling that there was a middle path deep down in their hearts, but they were not taking it. Someone had to take the first step and it was Nicky who did. He decided to take back his case, which in turn had an impact on Gabriel as well. All his resentments vanished, and although he couldn’t get back together with Nicky, he could always share Owen’s custody. Their common friends Claire and Judy had their baby, Sheila, and it was through the shared joy of seeing a new life that Nicky and Gabriel decided to lessen the pain in their life. It was not good for anybody. They loved each other and were unnecessarily causing each other pain and more than that, they were creating problems for Owen by making his life uncertain. But perhaps this stage had to come to change Gabriel and Nicky’s life.
During Our Son‘s ending, Nicky freed himself from the futile fight for sole custody. He had a one-night stand with a man named Solo which might build into something later. His focus however was on Owen now, and when Gabriel and Nicky met, they agreed on the shared custody. Gabriel too realized that Nicky too deserved his time with Owen and he was trying to be a better father. Gabriel had started working as well, to provide for Owen. The couple had finally matured and decided what was best for Owen and it was there that they decided to be happy rather than destroy their life any further.