The movie starts out by introducing us to a young man, Josh, playing music in his college dorm. We are also introduced to the young man's father, Sam, sealing a deal at his business. We see Sam calling up his son so that they can meet up and celebrate his deal. It quickly takes a turn when we find out Josh did not make it to meet up with his father, and instead lost his life. Sam quickly finds out on the news at the bar he was waiting to meet at that his son died in a shooting at the school's library.
Most of the movie takes places two years after Josh's death and centers around Sam and the aftermath of the tragedy. Sam receives his son's music from his ex-wife. He comes in contact with another side of his son in his music. He is consumed by this version of his son that has been overtaken by all the negative voices speaking of his son. This version is personified almost by this new young man that enters his life, Quentin, who loves the songs his son wrote. It's a troubled soul that is crying out for help in some of the songs I think.
Pretty much everything about this movie is excellent. The songs are beautifully written, musically and lyrically. It gives you a unique perspective as the parent of a school shooter. The performances are superb. The cinematography is notable. Lawrence Fishburne is awesome.
At the start of the last third of this movie, you are hit with "the big twist". His son was the bad guy. Most people don't see it coming. It's written exceptionally well, it really sets you up to believe that Josh was an innocent victim, but at the same time it lets you come to that assumption on your own. Having watched it multiple times, there are definitely some subtle hints that he was the shooter.
This movie prompts discussion about a number of things, art, loss, grief, music, etc.. if you like talking about movies and the subjects they bring up with your movie watching partners, then this is a good one.
The separation of art from it's artist is an example of one of the things we discussed. Would you listen to music or rock out to it at a show if you knew it was written by the Columbine shooter? Brock Turner? Hitler? John Wayne Gacy? No, probably not.
It could be music about anything; a nice day at the park, a special happening, a blooming romance, but when it is revealed to you that it's creator has done terrible things, would you still listen? That's where the viewer finds himself in this movie. The son of the main character who wrote most of the songs that his dad plays shot and killed 6 students at his college. Even after the "big reveal" I think it makes you question whether or not it is okay that his music is shared with the world. Before you reveal, you're like, of course. It's cool that his dad is playing his songs! Why are they having a problem with this? It could be because he's gone and they aren't really his songs, but then again you're not sure.
Ultimately, I think this movie is about healing. Healing through a devastating loss. The healing in this movie occurs with the aid of music and a few new relationships. He starts the sad descent into hopeless despair rudderless, but by the end of the movie, I believe he has found his course, his solace, his peace. He has made his impact. The truth has been revealed. Some healing has occurred.