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My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

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My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, the first collaboration between cinematic greats Werner Herzog and David Lynch, is an off-kilter comedy about the decay of American suburbia. It is loosely based on the high-profile case of Mark Yavorsky, a young man who murdered his mother.

Set in San Diego, aspiring actor Brad (Michael Shannon) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His erratic behavior causes concern for his fiancé, Ingrid (Chloë Sevigny), whose attempts to understand him are in vain. All hell breaks loose when he kills his overbearing mother with a samurai sword and takes two hostages. Through a series of bizarre flashbacks we see the events that led up to his berserk rampage.

Upon reading the synopsis for My Son, My Son, one would assume the film is a dark, disturbing tale of matricide. It is anything but. The film instead resembles a trip to a child’s amusement park where plastic gimmicks are unceremoniously thrown at you, but nonetheless you’re sucked in by the craziness. Pink flamingoes, ostrich farms and melodramatic evangelists are recurring themes of Brad’s mania while Mexican corrida music blares over the overexposed light as detectives Vargas (Michael Peña) and Havenhurst (Willem Dafoe) fumble their way through the situation.

My Son, My Son is an eccentric distortion of the typical cop-thriller formula. As co-writer and sole director, Herzog dances to the beat of his own drum as he explores — on a somewhat superficial level — one’s journey into insanity. There are moments too in which executive producer David Lynch’s influence is evoked through random bursts of the surreal. Together, they succeed in creating a film that has its own quirky rhythm and provides plenty of awkward laughs.

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done screens exclusively at Cinema Nova from Aug 25.
For session times visit www.cinemanova.com.au


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