A Mom from Arkansas
I remember seeing “Our Sons” with Ann-Margaret and Julie Andrews years old but I had forgotten its Arkansas link. I watched it again today and I am still amazed at the beauty of the film.
Audrey Grant (Julie Andrews) is a rich socialite whose is asked by her gay son (Hugh Grant) to go to Fayetteville, Arkansas to find Luanne Barnes, his lover’s mother (Ann-Margaret). It seems that her son is dying of AIDS and he (Zeljko Ivansh) wants to see his mother before he dies. The four characters of this movie go through a myriad of emotions. Andrews has to accept the fact that her own son is gay and that his lover is dying and is forced into boding with a stranger who did not know her son was gay. Once she found out she wants nothing to do with him and does not seem to really care that her son is dying. There s also the clash of social clashes as Ann-Margaret comes across as an uneducated country bumpkin who resents an upper class woman intruding on her life. The exchanges between the two men are also very moving.
None of us know when AIDS will strike and hopefully none of us will ever have to face that situation. But every man s entitled to two things—a fond farewell and a proper burial. And this is what we see in “Our Sons”. We feel, throughout the entire movie, a need for tenderness, love and tolerance. The movie is a lament to the more than 100.000 people who had already fallen victim to AIDS by 1991 when the movie was made for TV. It cuts through differences of opinion and it ends on a beautiful uplifting, albeit, sad note.
When the son asks his mother to travel to Arkansas, he knows she will face a battle. The person she will have to go to see is repulsed by her son and the two women wage a war with strong feelings about their sons. Julie Andrews shows brilliance as the mother who had distanced herself from her son because she does not want to admit that he is gay and that his lover is dying. Ann-Margaret is not known for playing a mother but she also puts in a beautiful performance. When the two actresses go at each other, we see two of the most powerful female performances ever.
Ivansh as the dying son is a study in the humiliation that every parent is afraid of. He knows how his mother feels about him and he wrestles with himself about the prospect of a reunion. He is outstanding as the dying man and he deserves our sympathy. I felt that when he dies, a part of me went with him. His performance is subtle and beautiful. Hugh Grant is adequate but the others act circles around him.
“Our Sons” is a powerful and striking film. It is wonderfully moving and beautifully photographed and acted.