EXCLUSIVE: After a fierce bidding battle that followed the rousing premiere Sunday Sundance premiere, Apple is closing a deal for Flora and Son, the John Carney-directed film that stars Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Oren Kinlan and Jack Reynor. Streamers Apple, Amazon battled to the end. Haven’t got a final number yet, but the bidding landed in the vicinity of just under the $20M Netflix paid for Fair Play, I’m told.
Carney unveiled his first film Once at Sundance years ago, and shown he is a master craftsman at telling stories about the healing power of music. All of his films carry the theme, Can A Song Save Your Life?, which was the title of his second one before Harvey Weinstein unfortunately retitled it Begin Again after buying the 2013 Keira Knightley-Mark Ruffalo starrer many Toronto Festivals ago.
Flora and Son is a mother son story in which Eve Hewson (who is the daughter of U2 frontman Bono) plays a hot mess of a mother of a young underachieving lad and petty thief (Kinlan), who is not helped by his dad (Reynor, who was so good in Carney’s Sing Street). When she is encouraged by the coppers to find young Max a hobby, she presents him with a second hand guitar she has rescued from a dumpster, as a late birthday present. When he rejects the gift, she decides to take lessons herself via Zoom from a music loving teacher (Gordon-Levitt). Tunes ensue as she comes round toward bonding with her teen son, who has his own musical gifts to share.
Buyers have been buzzing with admiration since yesterday’s 2:30 PM screening at The Ray, and much of the buzz has been about Hewson. As a singer, she’s a chip off the old block and she shows breakout potential here. Many fans of Carney’s singular film creations have wondered when one of these terrific little pictures really launches his star, and this might be the one.
The film was auctioned by WME Independent, Fifth Season and FilmNation, and it is produced by Anthony Bregman, Carney, Peter Cron, Rebecca O’Flanagan and Robert Walpole.