Review: My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
As willfully weird as his B-movie-grade update on Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant was grotesquely overwrought, Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done spins a matricidal true-crime yarn into an absurdist fable whose tropes and themes, like the motivations of its killer protagonist, remain obscure. Such was the consensus, anyway, when the film debuted in competition at Venice and then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it met with a lukewarm, appropriately puzzled response. Oddly enough, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, a far inferior film in every respect (even if its outlandishly narcissistic, no-holds-barred performance by Nicolas Cage outshines Michael Shannon’s labile San Diego weirdo by several solar degrees of crazed charisma), came through the festival gauntlet anointed with critical laurels. But Herzog’s latest, an esoterically funny Cali-freak-out crime procedural executive produced by David Lynch, will likely not fare as well, despite the nod from Venice honcho Marco Mueller—except, perhaps, in the hindsight of career-retrospective curation.