My Son My Son on DVD

Saturday, 11 September 2010 23:00

Werner Herzog (2009’s “Bad Lieutenant” and “Rescue Dawn”) directs and David Lynch (Twin Peaks, “Blue Velvet”) executive produces this quirky little tale set in San Diego, about a man-child who gradually goes mad and ends up murdering his own mother. The excellent cast includes Willem Dafoe, Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, Brad Dourif, Udo Kier and Grace Zabriskie.

Shannon (“Jonah Hex”, “Revolutionary Road”) plays Brad, a bit of a loser who lives with his mother (Zabriskie – Twin Peaks, Big Love) and their two flamingos (or “eagles in drag” as Brad prefers to call them). They live in a garish pink bungalow with a flamingo mural painted on the garage door. Brad’s fiancée, Ingrid (Sevigny – also Big Love, “Zodiac”) has the patience of a saint, and hopes they will soon have a place of their own away from the mother’s suffocating attention.

My Son My Son What Have Yeo Done comes to DVDAs the movie opens, the murder has already taken place in a neighbour’s front room, and Dafoe’s Detective Hank Havenhurst and colleague are called to the scene. Witnesses immediately identify Brad as the killer, and soon afterwards the police surround Brad’s house and begin negotiating his arrest. Ingrid and Hank’s theatre director (Kier – “Blade”, “Invincible”) arrive and they along with other witnesses recount events leading up to the tragic deed, through a series of flashbacks.

This is a difficult film to review, because despite the murderous subject matter, nothing much actually happens. Besides the flashbacks, the entire film consists of the police staging an uneventful siege outside Brad’s family home. Brad claims to have hostages but there is zero tension as to whether they are in any danger. Possibly this is by design, as the police are not exactly the most clued-up bunch of coppers ever depicted on film, but most of their mild bumbling falls horribly flat rather than causing raucous laughter.

The flashbacks do help to explain Brad’s ultimate actions, and attempt to show a gradual escalation in his madness, but - to this viewer at least - the character appeared to be barely a sultana short of a fruitcake from the beginning! Shannon portrays him as someone verging on autistic, as he does not connect with people properly and is fiercely inward-focused most of the time. He scowls and stares a lot and appears to be oblivious to people’s feelings. He is an extremely difficult figure to identify or sympathise with, and one wonders why Ingrid stands by him.

Even though the movie throws in flashbacks from Brad’s travels in Peru, Mexico and Canada, these changes of location do little to invigorate the film, though some of the South and Central American songs on the soundtrack do brighten the mood a little. Ultimately we are left with a film featuring a handful of Lynch’s typically oddball characters, but with none of their usual energy or menace. Again, perhaps this was Herzog’s intention – to depict how mundane and worthless life in modern suburbia is – but the movie struggles to make that subject entertaining or poignant. The actors singularly fail to do anything interesting with the limp material.

Though the preview disc had no extras, the retail version has a commentary track by Herzog, producer Eric Bassett and screenwriter Herbert Golder, as well as a separate interview with the director that includes behind-the-scenes footage.

“My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done” (2009) is out on DVD now, courtesy of Scanbox Entertainment. The running time of the main feature is 93 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’ and the movie retails for £19.99, or less from

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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