“Son of Sophia” has its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Written and directed by Elina Psykou and staring Victor Khomut as the young boy, attempting to wrestle with issues of betrayal, abandonment, and love as he leaves childhood behind. This thought-provoking and psychologically deep film about a mother and her son creates an intriguingly insightful look at growing up in less than ideal circumstances.
Misha (Khomut), a quiet and reserved 11 year-old travels on his own from Russia to Athens to live with his mother, Sofia (Valery Tscheplanowa). The two have been separated for years and their reunion shows the unfamiliarity but obligatory connection. The living situation is just one of the many surprises
for Misha as he learns that he and his mother will be living with an older gentleman, Mr. Nikos (Thanassis Papageorgiou). This man, he will discover, is also his new stepfather. Misha still needs his mother. He is still a boy and he clings to the comfort of fairy tales yet is abruptly pulled into the world of an older boy with no parental influence. The struggle is palpable as Misha grows up in this foreign land, not understanding the language, and thrust into a surprising situation. The bond between mother and son is shaken as the two sort out how to function as a family of three.
“Son of Sophia” is a complexly layered story, delving into not just the growing pains of young Misha, but of the conflicting loyalty that Sofia has. She’s torn between the love of her son and the need for her new husband, particularly financial, as she is commanded and demanded to obey and fulfill his needs. In addition, Sofia has a full-time job, pulling her in yet another direction. This internal struggle is beautifully portrayed, demonstrating what many wives and mothers deal with on a daily basis.
The film gives us yet another viewpoint; that of Misha. He longed to be only with his mother and finds Mr. Nikos to be a competitor. It’s a classic representation of a boy with an Oedipus Complex, attempting to do away with his competition. Misha’s new-found friend, Victor (Aremois Havalits) couldn’t be any worse of an influence, but with no parental involvement, Misha delves into inappropriate situations. His ability to understand right from wrong seems to become less clear as do his skills in coping with losing his childhood.
Khomut is the lead actor, supporting the film completely with his nuanced performance. Balancing on the edge of childhood’s imagination and the dark world of adults is difficult, but Khomut finds a way to do exactly this. Tscheplanowa gives us a beautifully dramatic performance, creating a conflicted and apprehensive character. She brings us a character who is not only real, but believable. The interaction between the two is familiar and relatable while the cinematography gorgeously captures each and every mood and feeling. The story-line does become disturbing, but it is required to do so in order to expertly bring the Oedipal Complex to its bitter-sweet conclusion.
“Son of Sofia” is remarkably haunting and dramatic as it captures the love between a mother and her son and his need to grow up. Its complexities are revealed through deft direction and writing, allowing the cast to shine.
“Son of Sofia” is showing at the Tribeca Film Festival Friday, April 21 at 6:30 pm at the Regal Cinema. For more information about tickets, go to Tribeca Film Guide