What movie was that...?

24 February 2010

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

directed by Werner Herzog

What do you get when you throw mad genius David Lynch and madder genius Werner Herzog into a cup with a demented Michael Shannon? You get a nutso yahtzee of cinematic absurdity fit for the ages. Though directed by Herzog, the film looks very much like a David Lynch (executive producer on this endeavor) meets Aguirre type of oddity, especially in the Peruvian jungle revelatory sequences. Michael Shannon seems to channel the ghost of crazed Herzog doppelganger Klaus Kinski to play Brad, a man who, after a seemingly normal cup of coffee with his neighbors, commits matricide and then holes up in his house to negotiate his surrender. Through flashbacks and stories, the film seeks to interpret just how things got to that point for Brad. Michael Shannon was skunked for his miraculous turn in Revolutionary Road, and he will more than likely receive no credit for this spectacular performance, which is nothing short of tragic. Chloe Sevigny delivers another wonderfully understated performance similar to her great role in David Fincher’s Zodiac. And holy smokes is Grace Zabriskie (you know, Dottie from Armageddon?) just the bee’s knees as Brad’s mother and (possibly just in his mind) the source of his pain. Is the film a comedy? Absolutely not, but it sure is funny at times, and simultaneously uncomfortable. What resonates is the dark, morbid fascination that Herzog and Lynch have with mankind, the masochistic urge to pick at the scab to see the wound beneath. Lynch does it with stream of consciousness absurdity, and Herzog does it with imagery (the final shot of Even Dwarves Started Small is still one of the freakiest things I have ever seen), but both deliver their philosophies to us in curious packages. In My Son, My Son, the Lynch/Herzog/Shannon trifecta of strange is complete, forged obdurate by its bold and bizarre look into the soul, giving us an offbeat filmic treasure that Hollywood wouldn’t dare cook up. 

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