DVD Review: Don’t Call Me Son

The 2016 Brazilian film exploring themes of family and identity is now available from Kino Lorber

The immediate, energetic opening to Don’t Call Me Son introduces us to Pierre (Naomi Nero), a gender-fluid teen flirting with boys and girls at a party in Sao Paulo. The kid feels up girls during class and rehearses with a band; he seems comfortable growing into his sexual identity in this community, supported by his single mother and younger sister. His personal journey is detoured by news that his mom is not really his mom and his biological family wants him back.

Dani Nefussi plays both mothers — blonde working-class Aracy and wealthy, overly attentive Glória — creating a thru-line between the two family situations. As in her previous work The Second Mother, this 2016 film by writer/director Anna Muylaert explores themes of class and family. She uses unsettling close-up shots and natural light, giving the film an improvised, slice-of-life feel.

Pierre’s original family & he (who they call Felipe) share something akin to culture shock. Accustomed to a laissez faire parenting style, he is thrust under their vigilance. Meanwhile, Matheus (Matheus Nachtergaele, City of God) and Glória are concerned with societal expectations and, thus, uncomfortable with Pierre’s queerness. His newfound little brother Joca (Daniel Botelho) remains tentative about this new relationship, patient to see how things play out.

There’s an underlying tension through Don’t Call Me Son, as Pierre is thrust out of his comfort zone and into a heteronormative environment. When his parents exert control, Nero plays Pierre with a slow burning anger. He uses clothing as a statement of his identity as well as a form of protest. He can’t be the idealized, dream-figure of Felipe his natural parents hoped for during his missing years; he can only be Pierre, imperfections and all.

Muylaert’s film is layered with themes of identity — family, sexual, personal — and has no easy answers. There are bursts of unexpected violence and discomfiting emotion. The directorial decisions, cinematography and story cement Don’t Call Me Son in the real world and all its awkward, uncomfortable moments.

Kino Lorber now offers Don’t Call Me Son on DVD [Kino Lorber, Amazon]. The package includes a number of featurettes about thematic choices, the director, the actors, and more.

Previous post Two Cents Preps for BLACK PANTHER by Delivering You a MESSAGE FROM THE KING
Next post Forgotten Sequel GATE II Conjures More Monsters and Magic, New on Blu