There’s a moment in the middle of Bill Oliver’s Our Son where Nicky (Luke Evans) explains to his father (Michael Countryman) that he’s going to court with his estranged husband Gabriel (Billy Porter) over custody of their eight-year-old son. When his hardened father softens a bit and attempts to comfort Nicky, we see their entire history in both men’s faces. Evans’ strained, intense gaze reflects a complicated, reconciled past.

There’s plenty of lovely little moments here. And while Oliver and Peter Nickowitz’s screenplay plays a tad derivative in places, performances are top-notch. Evans and Porter have an oddball, oil-and-water chemistry that fits the relationship well, working off each other with impressive restrain. We’re witness to two very different acting styles in discussion with one another. Oliver is smart to let those scenes drive the bulk of the narrative. Evans has never been better and Porter looks incredibly comfortable in a more subdued role.

The real X-factor, however, are the supporting performances. There’s a great turn by Robin Weigert as Nicky’s empathetic divorce lawyer. Andrew Rannells anchors a few scenes as a good friend torn in half by the dissolution of the marriage. And then there’s the inestimable Phylicia Rashad, who steals one important scene, elevating some of the most pat dialogue. When there is less happening in Our Son, there is more to be taken from it. Quiet pauses after a fight. Reactions to an unexpected burst of emotion.

Perhaps the most interesting element explored in the film is the myriad ways one can be a parent. There’s a clear distinction between Nicky and Gabriel and how each approaches fatherhood. For the former it’s an important––maybe the most important––thing in his life. For the latter, it’s his whole life. “When I became a father, I fell in love. I changed. Nicky didn’t change,” Gabriel admits in court. And yet both of these men are good parents and the film does well to introduce the dichotomy. One wishes there’d been a bit more exploration in this arena. The complexities of parenting as portrayed on film feels both overabundant and ill-defined. As the central conflict between our two leads blossoms and overtakes the narrative, opportunities for nuance are left by the wayside.

Still, Our Son captures a feeling. Oliver’s reliance on his cast pays off in dividends. Becoming a parent means living for another life as much as––if not more than––your own. There’s nothing straightforward about it. At times, this film is a bit too straightforward.

Our Son plays at the Seattle Queer Film Festival on October 13.

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