my son my son what have ye done

– . – My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?


My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

Director Werner Herzog Screenplay Werner Herzog, Herbert Golder Stars Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny Opens September 10 (on DVD from September 27)

Werner Herzog’s latest project certainly poses an intriguing question, and the answer isn’t long in coming; Brad McCullum (Shannon) has committed matricide. As Detective Hevenhurst (Dafoe) attempts to understand his motives with the help of Brad’s fiance Ingrid (Sevigny), what transpires is a story of a disturbed manchild, who both clings to and is strangled by the apron strings of his aging mother (Grace Zabriskie); a trip to Peru, his involvement in an am-dram production of Orestia and a samurai sword fueling his psychotic intent.
It’s as fragmented, hallucinatory and beguiling as you would expect from the pairing of Herzog and executive producer David Lynch; cinema as both art and artifice. Flamingos pace the set, Herzog’s camera focuses on inconsequential elements and, occasionally, characters freeze in wobbly tableau. In between the flashbacks of Brad’s bizarre behaviour, Dafoe and Sevigny anchor the narrative; but just as you think you’ve got a handle on proceedings, it slips away again into the surreal.
It’s cinema as experience; nothing is neatly packaged or coherent in the multiplex sense of the word. But it’s also challenging, uncompromising and unlike anything else you’ll see this year. 4 stars

Nikki Baughan