Flora and Son: Could the next big Apple TV+ hit be a movie about online guitar lessons?

The story of a single mum attempting to learn the guitar in order to bond with her teenage son might not scream ‘must-see movie’, but hold on, because the trailer for Apple TV+’s Flora and Son has landed and it tees up said tale nicely.

Directed by John Carney, whose previous musical-comedies include Once, Sing Street and Begin Again, we learn that the eponymous Flora (Eve Hewson) brings home a guitar after the police tell her that she needs to find something to occupy the time of her off-the-rails teenage son, Max (Orén Kinlan), or he’ll end up “behind bars.”

Disappointed to discover that he has no interest in learning to play, Flora decides to take up the guitar herself, and seeks out video tuition on YouTube. Seemingly overwhelmed by what she finds, she ends up having one-to-one online guitar lessons with down-on-his-luck LA musician Jack (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Whether romance ensues we can’t say - Flora is based in Dublin, Ireland - but we could hazard a guess.

There’s another twist, though: it looks like, rather than play the guitar, her son decides to start producing electronic music on his laptop. Could a mother/son collaboration be on the cards? Again, we can’t say, but we could hazard a guess.

Flora and Son

(Image credit: Apple TV)

Flora and Son premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, and the early word has been pretty positive. Whether it can go on to achieve the same level of success as Coda, the Apple-distributed, music-focused movie that went on to win the Best Picture Oscar in 2022, remains to be seen.

Eve Hewson, of course, has some strong musical heritage, being the daughter of none other than U2’s Bono. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter about Flora and Son earlier this year, she confirmed that she performed all of her character’s vocals in the film, and that producers resisted the temptation to fix any imperfections.

“It is all me singing,” she said. “The whole thing and not even with Auto-Tune when you can just fix that little bit to make it a bit better. We actually really like that. It’s sort of off and sounds like a real person. I overcame a massive, massive fear doing that. I would rather swim with sharks.”

Hewson also revealed that, although she grew up playing music, the guitar wasn’t her instrument of choice.

“I actually hated the guitar,” she confessed. “I hate the strings and the calluses and once I got to chords, I was like, fuck this. But yeah, I played guitar when I was younger but was more into the drums and piano.”

As for whether she sought her father’s advice while working on her Flora and Son songs, Hewson says that he only got to hear them when they were finished.

Flora and Son

(Image credit: Apple TV)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.