Review Roundup: What Do Critics Think of AMERICAN SON on Netflix?
Christopher Demos-Brown's popular stage play "American Son" has been adapted into a Netflix film, which debuted on the streamer November 1. The entire Broadway cast returns to play the roles they created onstage: that includes Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan, and Eugene Lee.
A Florida police station in the middle of the night. Two parents searching for answers. AMERICAN SON is a gripping tale about who we are as a nation, and how we deal with family relationships, love, loss, and identity.
Find out what critics think of "American Son" below!
Chris Vognar, The New York Times:
"American Son" scores with such emotional details. The problem is that these details are all the film has. At some point you're tempted to stop following the narrative and start keeping score between husband and wife. It's a good debate. It just isn't much of a movie.
Tambay Obenson, IndieWire:
The lack of sophistication with which each character is depicted makes it difficult for audiences to root for, or be empathetic towards any of them. And by the time Jamal's fate is revealed, in a rather abrupt, ham-fisted ending, audiences likely won't care, and will just be glad that it's over. Despite its dense dialogue and stagey theatrics, Jamal, Kendra and Scott remain mysteries, and the audience's understanding of the film's central contention isn't anymore clearer than it was at the beginning. It's subpar material for a more than proficient cast, which is maybe the most frustrating aspect of the film.
Jordan Hoffman, TV Guide:
Other than a few short dissolves in this 90-minute movie (some to "imagined" images during a languid monologue), director Kenny Leon sticks with the "filmed play" technique. Though the dialogue feels very forced at times, and some of the reactions come off as very phony (more on that in a bit), it's only thanks to the good performances of Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale that this is as watchable as it is.
Andrew Lapin, NPR:
Some film directors who adapt stage works believe it's their job to fool us into thinking we're not watching a play, because plays aren't cinematic enough. They're wrong. The play is all we need, provided it's good enough to merit the adaptation in the first place. American Son is so explosive and angry that helmer Kenny Leon, who also directed the play on Broadway, gets out of its way entirely. Which means now we can see, a little too clearly, that the show doesn't wield its anger responsibly. The next time Netflix goes sniffing around Broadway, it should bring back something with brains to match heart.
Brian Lowry, CNN:
Directed by Kenny Leon from the play by Christopher Demos-Brown, "American Son" disgorges a whole lot of information in a compact timeframe, in a manner that feels conspicuously stagey and a trifle forced. It's generally difficult to open up a play enough to suit the screen (a wholly different medium), losing the in-person nature of the experience. That challenge feels especially acute given the clenched nature of this material. Fortunately, there's a whole lot of intensity packed into the former "Scandal" star's performance, as she and her husband debate over identity, profiling and their son growing up amid a mostly white circle of friends -- concerns that her spouse, in a moment of anger, dismisses as "victimhood psychobabble."