Flora and Son is a musical comedy-drama film written and directed by John Carney. The Apple TV+ film follows the story of Flora, a single mother trying to figure out how to keep her delinquent son away from illegal activities so that he doesn’t end up in jail. That’s when she finds a guitar and tries to make her son interested in music but when that doesn’t work out she starts learning the guitar herself. Flora and Son stars Eve Hewson as Flora, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jeff, Jack Reynor as Ian, and Orén Kinlan as Max.
In the beginning of Flora and Son, we see the titular character in a pub drinking and dancing in the night, just as she is approached by a creepy-looking man who wants to take her home but at first, she ignores him and tries to chat up some other guy but at the end, she ends up with him again.
When Flora wakes up in the morning and finds that nobody is in her bed she feels relief that he has already gone. He quickly comes back and tries to talk to her but Flora brings up that she has a son. The man pauses for a second and gets out of the house.
In the next scene, we see Flora and her son Max, talking with a police officer who is there to ask some questions about how Max has been behaving the past few months. Because Max is a juvenile delinquent and the police officer is a part of the Juveline Liasion which helps kids so that they can avoid prison. Max answers every question from the police in a flippant manner and the police officer warns Max and Flora that if Max does anything illegal even one more time he will end up in jail he also suggests to Flora to find some activity for Max to do so that he can stay distracted and doesn’t do anything illegal.
Flora is at her nanny job now, and before she leaves Flora steals a bit of money from her boss’s purse. While on her way home she finds a broken and dusty guitar at the side of the road. She picks up the guitar and takes it to a shop to fix it.
Next, we see Max getting home and Flora sitting with the guitar in the living room. When Max asks where she got the guitar, Flora replies why does it matter, Max was interested in music before so he can take an interest in it again and that’s when a big row between them starts as both of them swear at each other. This doesn’t seem very much out of the ordinary for them as they both seem a bit estranged.
The next morning we see Flora taking Max to his father Ian’s home. Where Flora and Max’s dad chat for a bit about the fight Flora and Max had and, she ends up telling him that she might take up the guitar, to which Ian replies that for her to learn the guitar she has to have commitment and dedication in a patronizing manner. That’s when we learn that Max’s father was a musician before Flora and him ended up with Max and that’s the reason he gave up music. Now, he lives with another woman and seems to be doing nothing to pursue his dreams.
After leaving Ian’s home Flora meets up with her friend and as they are talking about everything Flora says that this can’t be her life, as in she wants to be something more than the mother of a son who hates her and an ex-husband who doesn’t even see her. She also says that she wouldn’t mind sometimes if she came home and Max wasn’t there. After their talk Flora’s friend suggests a night at the pub and Flora agrees.
Flora gets home picks up the guitar and tries to learn with the help of the internet. But she gets overwhelmed with all of the tutorials that tell her that she will have to give a lot of time to learn to play the guitar. Then she finds Jeff’s video, a supporting and charming guitar tutor but she decides against taking his lessons for now because he charges $20 for his service.
Later Flora finds Max sitting outside of her building seeing a music video shoot, she asks him to come back to the house for dinner. Before leaving Max expresses his interest in one of the models from the music video named Samantha but she ignores him. Next, we see Flora and Max sitting together watching videos online, but Max says that he has to leave to go to his friend’s before visiting the police office for a bit and when Flora asks him to be back at the house at 9:00 PM, he snaps back at her asking why he has a curfew. After taking a few snaps at each other Max leaves the house.
After Max leaves, we see Flora starting a lesson with Jeff. After some initial questions and a beautiful song from Gordon-Levitt, Jeff asks Flora why she wants to learn music, and to that she replies that she wants to impress people and make them like her. She also starts flirting with him and she asks him to sing the song again but this time with his shirt off after which Jeff disconnects the video call.
Flora goes to her job while listening to music and when she gets there she starts talking to her boss’s toddler as he is Jeff, and she apologizes for objectifying and says that she does truly want to learn music. She then sends Jeff a message with a picture attached (which is not entirely appropriate), but she gets a reply from Jeff that says that they can have a lesson later but this time no whining from her side.
On Tuesday, Flora is eating dinner while Max is playing games on his laptop and soon he leaves to go to his friend’s house. Then, we see Flora starting her lesson with Jeff in a new and a bit more sexier outfit. She starts talking with Jeff about music, and after a bit of a debate, Jeff sings her a song, (in the process she imagines him sitting in front of her instead of America) after he finishes the song. Flora is impressed and starts learning the technical stuff about guitars.
Later, she goes to an open mic for songwriters with a cash prize but she soon leaves and finds a man named Barry, the event promoter standing outside who she knows already. Next, we see Max and Ian looking at and discussing one of Ian’s music videos. Flora soon comes to pick Max up and after Ian sees Flora with a guitar and questions her about it. Next, we witness a very sexual and uncomfortable conversation initiated by Flora questioning Ian and Juanita’s sexual life, which is equal parts funny and equal part uncomfortable.
On their way home Flora and Max discuss music and after they reach their building, Flora leaves saying that she will be back sometime. She goes to a park where she practices playing the guitar in front of Jeff online. When she asks Jeff to play his song again he confesses to her that the song he played before wasn’t actually his song and he just wanted to see how it would have felt to write a song like that. Flora then asks him to play one of his songs and Jeff complies. But after hearing his good song it doesn’t move Flora after that Jeff continues the lesson saying that if everyone was as honest as her he wouldn’t have had to waste more than a decade of his life trying to make it in the music industry.
Back home, Flora listens to Both Sides, Now by Joni Mitchell completely in awe and she starts to cry as the song ends. In the next scene, we see Flora and her friend in a mall where her friend suggests that Flora has fallen in love with Jeff. Next, we see Flora in her flat where Max is playing loud music and Flora finds out that Max made the music himself with his laptop. She becomes interested in how he was able to do that without any instruments and soon they start discussing the lyrics of the rap song.
Next, we see a get-together in Flora’s house including Ian, and Max’s song is playing for everyone. After everybody has gone home Ian asks Flora to play the guitar for him. She then starts playing a cheeky song about Juanita and soon it becomes a family moment with Max joining in.
Another lesson starts in which Jeff compliments Flora for making progress and Flora suggests that his song is salvageable. Then they both try to fix the song together. She then informs him that she has written a lyric that could fix the song, and asks him to try it later.
Flora and Max again run into Samantha during a music shoot in front of their building. Max tries to talk to her from a distance but she seems uninterested and when Flora asks Samantha for dinner with her Max denies it. Then Flora asks Max about his feelings for Samantha and then they make a song together for Samantha and then they both make a video to go with the song. Flora then encourages Max to send the video to Samantha.
In the next lesson we see Jeff playing his song after implementing the changes Flora suggested. Flora joins Jeff and they both sing the song, and this time it feels beautiful. Then they discuss how to complete the song and Flora starts flirting with Jeff. Then they discuss life and Flora ends up telling Jeff her life story and then Jeff tells her that he was an alcoholic. Then they share a beautiful moment and when Flora asks him if he finds her attractive he says that it would be inappropriate, but the moment continues.
The next day Flora meets Ian to ask him if he can look after Max while she goes to LA to find herself, but Ian says that he doesn’t have the time because he is starting up a wedding band. Then she asks her friend and when her friend also says no to taking care of Max, she gets angry with Max.
In the next scene, we see Max running from a shop owner after stealing a synthesizer, but he gets caught and Flora gets a call from prison. The police inform Flora that this time Max might have to serve some time and on their way back home Max and Flora fight and it comes up that Max knows that she is leaving him to go to LA to be with Jeff.
When Flora informs Ian about this he tells her that this might just be the thing that Max needs for him to grow up and this would also give them both the time to do whatever they want to do. She stares at him with a blank face as he says that he will see her in court on Tuesday.
Next, we see Flora and Max heading to court and while they wait for Max’s case to come up they realize that Ian still hasn’t come. Flora tries to call him but he doesn’t pick up and the hearing begins without him. Max is punished with eight weeks of sentence and a year of probation but after Flora pleads to the judge the sentence is reduced by half.
After they get out of the court, Max says that he will be fine and she did great at the hearing. Flora starts to break down and they both hug each other tightly. In the next scene, we see Flora telling Jeff that she won’t be coming to LA to visit him while Max is in the juvie. Then Jeff tells Flora that he has written a song about Flora and she asks him to play it and he says that he will send her the recording.
In the next scene, we see Flora going to the judge with a request that she allow Max to bring his microphone and headphones in juvie so that he can continue making music. Flora buys Max the synthesizer and microphone he wanted and sends him off to serve his sentence. They both continue with their music separately. Soon, Max gets out and they both continue with their life. In the final moments of the film, we see Ian, Max, Flora, and Jeff (online from LA) playing their music at the open mic from earlier.
Is it a Happy Ending?
Flora and Son does have a happy ending because if it didn’t what kind of feel-good movie would it have been? The film ends with Flora, Ian, and Max coming together for their music, and while all of their issues might not be solved permanently. It does show that they can rely on each other when it matters. Jeff and Flora also seem to be on good terms and their relationship could lead to something substantial in the future but even if it doesn’t their relationship brought something positive in both of their lives. Finally, I think Max and Flora are going to be okay with each other from now which is a big thing to say if we see where they started.