If you even know of filmmakers David Lynch and Werner Herzog, you approach their co-production* prepared, just as a runner stretches in preparation for the track. Their respective bibliographies are less narrative oriented and more akin to impressionist paintings. Everyone will have their own spin on their stories, but anyone presenting conclusive meanings is on a fool’s errand.
Michael Shannon plays Brad McCullum, a flamingo aficionado who has just stabbed his mother. Now he’s retreated to his home, yelling to the awaiting police officers that he has hostages. The arrival of McCullum’s fiance Ingrid (Chloe Sevigny) and former play director Lee Meyers (Udo Kier) present flashbacks of McCullum leading up to the murder.
Shannon portrays McCullum’s crazy with quiet intensity that’s more frightening than if he were running around screaming (as other Hollywood crazies are likely to do). There’s an absurdist comedy at work when detectives Havenhurst (Willem Dafoe) and Vargas (Michael Pena) assess the crime scene, and visual gags when McCullum orders a pizza and shows the police officers where he’s found God.
If it weren’t so funny, the film might sputter and die, but the entire cast is a treat to watch and the walk on the wild side of McCullum’s mind keeps you guessing. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is an interesting tale of listening to your inner voice, Oedipal complexities, and…whatever else you’ll find on your own path through this world. The beauty of the film is its amorphous nature, so if you’re looking for a mind trip, My Son, My Son delivers.
*Lynch produced, Herzog directed