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A young Marine returns home for what might be the last time in American Son, a gritty and affecting drama coming to DVD on August 25, 2009 from Miramax Films and Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Exclusive bonus features, including interviews with the filmmakers, provide an unflinching look behind the scenes of this cinematic tour de force about a young man’s uncertain coming of age.

Mike (Nick Cannon) just arrived from Iraq. He meets a Latina girl named Cristina (Melonie Diaz) on the bus who he falls in love with. Mike and his father Eddie try to help their brother who is a crack fiend but to no avail.  Mike struggles to find himself whether he really is fit to be a Marine. Mike and Cristina for the most part hang out and party. He flips out at a party and beats up a gang member for hitting on his girl Cristina. Mike and his long time friend Jake (Matt O’Leary) have a fall out. Her mother then finds out that Mike is going to fight in Iraq. It’s tearful ending when you watch her mother send away her young son to war.

This indie film’s special features are limited to three which aren’t particularly interesting or entertaining. These sections include “On Leave in Bakersfield: Behind the Scenes of American Son” which is a walk-through of the filming process, two deleted scenes appropriately removed from the film with optional commentary, and feature length audio commentary by director Neil Abramson and producers Danielle Renfrew and Michael Roiff.

It’s the sensational performances by Nick Cannon and Matt O’Leary that keep the film compelling, despite the fact that its attempts to make a statement fall flat. Given that the film does have a some good moments to offer, I don’t discourage people from seeing it. It’s far from a poorly made film, just a routine one that doesn’t have much creativity at its core. What you’re left with is something that’s been done before, and in a much better fashion. It’s not the first film featured with sex, drugs, and hostilities and it certainly won’t be the last.


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