Director: Neil Abramson
Screenwriters: Eric Schmid
Framed by the parameters of a young man’s 96-hour leave before being shipped off to Iraq, American Son is a darkly vivid, yet romantic and poignant, portrait of the passage from adolescence to adulthood, of facing the uncertainties of the future, and of truly coming of age.
In joining the Marines, Mike Holland has already chosen a path, but in returning home for what could be the last time, he is suspending his life’s journey, albeit temporarily. This "respite" is confusing because he hasn’t disclosed to anyone where he is headed and further complicated by an affair with an attractive young woman that was kindled on the bus ride home.
Holland’s disintegrating family world, his tempestuous best friend, and a rapidly evolving romance, all set within a ticking time frame, make for a vitally dramatic scenario. And in this film that resonates with place (the bleakness of Bakersfield); brims with diversity, both racially and culturally; and is unique, yet oddly and affectingly commonplace, director Neil Abramson creates an emotionally powerful, tautly real, and insightful universe—one that alternates between despair and hope and resolves itself with an impact that reminds us why film is such an effective art form. With sterling performances by leads Nick Cannon and Melonie Diaz, this is unflinching and engaging independent filmmaking at its highest level.