“Herzog, Herzog, What Have Ye Done” would be an equally apt title for the latest film from the infamous Bavarian director. Between flamingos (“eagles in drag”); greek plays; porridge oats; and random appearance of a midget (three guesses as to who executive produced this?) it’s difficult to figure out what the film is actually about, or what we’re supposed to take from it by the time it finishes.
The plot itself is fairly simple. A police detective, played by Willem Defoe, turns up at the murder scene. He soon finds out from a witness, the victim’s son is the perpetrator, and having committed the crime locked himself his mother’s house with two hostages. The detective then goes on to interview both his fiance and friend to find out what might have caused him to do such a thing.
All of which makes it sound like a psychological thriller with a high-stakes stake out thrown in for good measure. However, it’s not that type of movie. We’re treated to flashbacks of Brad’s life as we see how he changed from a seemingly normal young man to someone who claimed to hear the voice of god. We see the love and respect he had for his mother, and how much he hated being away from her. Like the detectives and his friends we’re left confused and bemused by Brad’s actions. But I think that’s the point.
Herzog includes beautiful tracking shots of the crime scene and other significant visuals in the picture. The movie always seems to be showing you something, as though what’s being said is irrelevant and all the real truth is coming at you through your eyes. Perhaps this is how Brad sees the world, not through human relationships, but through every other way the world speaks to him.
Deconstructing My Son, My Son…. having only seen it once is nigh on impossible. Like any film with David Lynch attached, the real meaning and truth behind it will probably become clearer as you watch it for a second and third time. It’s a film that will frustrate many viewers. However, for those willing to re-watch it, my instincts are that it’s a film that allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions about the meaning or otherwise of every line, look and piece of imagery used. Brave and unflinching: My Son, My Son… may well be a masterpiece. Then again it could just be a piece of pretentious nonsense.