Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
A perfect night in with EE
Win £200 to spend on the perfect night in
Empire Blogs
Cannes Film Festival

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

Posted on Saturday September 5, 2009, 10:42 by Damon Wise in Cannes Film Festival
Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

After the initial shock of The Bad Lieutenant (pictured) actually being good, there was a second turn-up for the books yesterday: the festival's first surprise film, one of four, was Werner Herzog's other new film, the heavily anticipated My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?. Produced by David Lynch, whose fingerprints are on every frame, it's an interesting companion piece for Bad Lieutenant, even though it's quite different, rather more experimental and, er, very much like a David Lynch movie. The style is American gothic but with a hyperreal glow, and it starts with a cop (Willem Dafoe) regaling his policing partner with an anecdote about a high-speed chase with a hayseed sheriff. “Sometimes I wonder who's worse,” he muses. “Us or the fuckin' criminals.” Almost instantly a call comes through, and the two are assigned to a homicide: the murder of a woman in San Diego. When they get to the crime scene, they unwittingly encounter the killer (Michael Shannon) straight away: he's the bearded guy outside with the big coffee cup who advises them to “razzle-dazzle 'em”.

What follows is the cop's attempt to make sense of the situation, and it transpires that the wanted man is the murdered women's son, Brad McCallum (Revolutionary Road's Michael Shannon). But they don't have far to look – he only lives over the road – and before long his fiancee (Chloe Sevigny) and friend (Udo Kier) have arrived, giving them an insight into his recent battle with psychiatric illness. To be honest, I was expecting (and wanting) this film to be much more freaky, but Herzog plays it fairly straight with the reconstruction. He fills us in on the wanted man's near-death experience in Peru and reveals that he has been hearing the voice of God ever since, much to the dismay of his loyal fiancee and a trait not noticed at all by his needy, domineering mother (played by Lynch regular Grace Zabriskie, as unsettling a presence as always).

To start with, it's a tough sell. But, over time, Herzog really makes this an interesting situation. In a strange way it reminded me of the cheesy TV series Quantum Leap, in that, if Werner Herzog ever jumped into David Lynch's body he might make a film like this. But that's a trite description, considering what the film actually does. Although it drags in the middle, My Son My Son really gathers (not builds) for a chilling climax that doesn't explain anything at all but very convincingly portrays the damage caused by mental illness and the shocking banality and surrealism of true-life crime. Even now, hours after I saw it, I still can't quite believe that it's not a new, under-the-radar David Lynch movie. But there are scenes that are so Herzog, and so random, that I can't believe those two never worked together before. And on this evidence, I hope they do so again. Soon.

Login or register to comment.


1 FincherFan27
Posted on Saturday September 12, 2009, 23:19
sounds like david lynch has directed most of the which case it should be AMAZING....however i usually find werner herzog films incredibly depressing, and lynchs films i find strangely uplifintg funny and enjoyable, no matter how disturbing they might get.....still hope the films good though

Log in below, or register to post comments
Remember Me:


Empire States (444)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


Cannes 2011: The Line-Up
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Mr Nobody
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: A Single Man
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Survival Of The Dead
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Men Who Stare At Goats
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Informant!
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: The Horde
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Oliver Stone's South Of The Border
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: Capitalism, A Love Story
By Damon Wise

Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
By Damon Wise


Cannes 2011: The Line-Up
"I advise everyone with dress problems to look (Www Voguebuybuy Com) It has the lat"  voguebuybuy
Read comment

Cannes 2011: The line-up
"Didn't even know Drive had been adapted. Been meaning to read it for ages. Yay"  jamesjewell1983
Read comment

Cannes 2011: The line-up
"Is there a reason why these articles cannot be shared on Facebook? Is it "  rgod
Read comment

Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far
"Test on IE"  DJH17
Read comment

Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far
"Test..."  DJH17
Read comment

Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!
"Just watched the film and thought it was great. Did not expect that ending that made the film so muc"  Zimbo
Read comment

Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!
"ian happy to read that nicholas cage is back on track. he has always been one of my favourite actors"  bellaphoenix
Read comment

Venice 09: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
"sounds like david lynch has directed most of the which case it should be AMAZING....ho"  FincherFan27
Read comment

Venice 09: A Single Man
"A Single Man sounds great! Knew nothing of it until now really, aside from Tom Ford being director, "  Acho
Read comment

Venice 09: Survival Of The Dead
"Is the picture from the film, or journalists struggling to get the right festival pass in the buildi"  Acho
Read comment


Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day

Cannes Day Eight: Basterds!

Clint Eastwood's Changeling Is The Best Of The Festival So Far

Picture Of The Day

Cannes 2008: Epilogue

Cannes Day Five: Antichrist!

Venice 09: The Road

Cannes Day Two: Tetro

Picture Of The Day

Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Will Lawrence (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

Empire's Fast & Furious 7 Review
We run the rule on the return of Toretto, Hobbs and co

Empire Meets Alison Brie
The Get Hard star on Ken Jeong, Toto and her favourite episode of Community

17 ‘What The?’ TV Cameos From Film Directors
From Spike Jonze as a music exec to Peter Bogdanovich as… himself?

Empire Meets Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
On A Second Chance, Game Of Thrones pranks and Headhunters' poo scene

The Secrets Behind 44 Classic Cinema Sound Effects
No really, the Ringwraiths are actually plastic cups...

The 30 Greatest Superhero Movies Of All Time
Empire readers pick their top super flicks

10 Videos Every Tom Hanks Fan Should Have Watched By Now
Of course, everyone in the world is a Tom Hanks fan…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)