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The police are called to a murder scene and quickly discover that the murderer, the victim's son, is holed up in his house with two hostages. Through a series of interviews with both the murderer's fiancée and his theatre director the police piece together a picture of a man losing touch with reality.Written by
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Directed by Werner Herzog, produced by David Lynch - quite a lot for any film to live up to? The question is does "My Son, My Son..." meet expectations? The answer is probably not. Although it's an interesting misfire. Although the film was directed by Herzog it often displays Lynch's hallmarks; the constant foreboding music humming low in the soundtrack, the moments of quirky humour, the mannered dialogue and the weird characters, most notably Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie as the mother. It's almost as though Herzog is intentionally paying homage to his fellow left-field director, while incorporating some of his own personal concerns such as a crazy central character, weird animals, dangerous nature and, most specifically of all, a river trip in Peru! The film is like a collision of two of the most fascinating film directors of the past forty years. But for some reason, it never truly clicks together, which is of course enormously unfortunate.
The film is basically about a psychologically troubled man called McCullum who one day kills his mother with a sword. He holes up in his house with two hostages while a detective arrives on the scene and talks to his two closest friends, his fiancé and theatrical director. From here we are told various things in flashback about McCullum, while still observing events in the hostage situation.
The set up is quite promising really. There is potential for an interesting story. And the film does have some good oddball actors at its disposal, like Zabriskie, Willem Dafoe, Brad Dourif and Udo Kier. But maybe Michael Shannon is a weak link in the central role, as it is very difficult to empathise with him. This may not be entirely Shannon's fault of course as the character he is playing is somewhat hard to like; nevertheless, Shannon is often too over-the-top and it becomes tiring. Funnily enough Nicolas Cage was also completely OTT in his central performance in Herzog's recent Bad Lieutenant but for some reason he was brilliant – so go figure. Anyway, for whatever reason, the characters never really draw us in so that we care enough. On a more positive note, the film looks great and has quite a lot of moments of the surreal, often humorously so.
This is a film only for those who appreciate Herzog or Lynch at their weirdest. To not put too fine a point on it, it's not for everyone. Not an unqualified success by any means but bizarre enough for some respect.
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