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My Son, My Son, What Have You Done?

4/10

Stars: Willem Dafoe, Michael Shannon, Chloe Sevigny,
Michael Pena, Udo Kier, Brad Dourif,
Grace Zabriskie, Irma P. Hall, Loretta Devine, Verne Troyer

Director: Werner Herzog

You can sense the overall critical slavering that preceded the film – how could the creative marriage of producer David Lynch and director Werner Herzog have created anything other than a piece of cult cinema destined to fulfil every auteur-worshipper’s dream?

Herzog and Herbert Golder’s uninspiring “based on a true story” screenplay finds San Diego policemen Dafoe (giving a solid performance that helps keep you watching) and Pena called to a homicide where Zabriskie has been stabbed with a sword by her son Shannon, who has now holed up in a nearby house with two hostages. After this, the film proceeds as a competent-enough but lacklustre police procedural which, apart from the occasional offbeat touch, could pass as a routine made-for-television thriller or a relatively expensive pilot movie for a standard police television series. Yet another demonstration of that daft adage, a good cast cannot make a bad movie.

Most of the performances are simply adequate: the film, too, although it bears no trace of the combine cinematic oeuvres of its producer and director which is really sad, especially when you consider Herzog’s recent tour de force with Bad Lieutenant.

Alan Frank

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Scanbox Entertainment. Colour.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Sep 2010