Blu-ray Review: My Son (2017)

Now Available


Original French Title: Mon garçon

You don't want to mess with Guillaume Canet.

Wrapping a lamp cord around the man he suspects might be responsible for abducting his seven-year-old son from sleepaway camp, when Canet's Julien doesn't get the answers he's looking for, he drives the bound man over to the police station himself for further questioning.

Unfortunately, while these sort of dad-on-a-mission tactics work well for Charles Bronson or Liam Neeson, they just don't elicit the same response in polite French society, which Julien soon finds out when the officers on duty slap their cuffs not on the man he delivered to them all tied up as if in a bow, but the quick thinking, lamp cord wielding Julien instead.

When the desperate father is released, Julien fine-tunes his approach to keep a lower profile. With his head down, he goes back to work, undeterred in his quest, and even more determined than he was before because the clock is running out and, with every minute he wastes, his son might just as well be getting further and further away.

A gripping tale of suspense about a parent's worst nightmare, brought believably to life by the strong, fiery performance by Guillaume Canet at its center, director Christian Carion went to the greatest of lengths to ensure that Canet's plight was nothing if not one hundred percent authentic.

Keeping his Joyeux Noel star in the dark in this, their third pairing together, after an extensive rehearsal period was completed with the rest of the film's cast using a stand-in for Canet, Carion dropped the actor into filming and let him go on instinct and intuition, without showing him a single page of the script.

Shooting the film in chronological order in quick succession over six emotionally draining days, My Son is improvised to mostly stellar effect, which is apparent very early into Carion's film as Julien gets into a fight with his ex-wife Marie (well played by Melanie Laurent) in a standout sequence of domestic strife.

Guilt ridden by the absenteeism in his son's life that he's created by putting his globe-trotting career ahead of everything else, Julien's pain borders on an anguish he knows he cannot fully stop and face if he has any chance of finding his son.

Eyes widening and foot on the gas, in Son, Julien proves that he's willing to do whatever it takes to bring the boy home, whether that means yanking out a lamp cord to use as a restraint or, when the investigation turns on him, buying a prepaid phone and sim card to go off the grid. And the way that Canet's head is on a constant swivel here — adrenaline maxed and ready to take in anything that might be a clue — you get the feeling that the Tell No One filmmaker would make one hell of a good detective, if he ever tired of cinematic storytelling.

While the film is in ardent need of at least one more twist to strengthen its sagging arc as Carion's experimental approach creates sections where the narrative feels meanderingly unfocused, the eighty-five minute film is wise to hold fast to Julien's primal mission.

Drawing us into the gripping narrative alongside Laurent and Canet as we chase down leads, the film asks us to check our own personal biases in the process. Picking up momentum as it speeds toward its conclusion and arrives at a snowy, desolate potential crime scene, My Son reaches a final showdown so unbearably tense that I caught myself actually holding my breath as if I could help Canet keep quiet.

Letting you into the unorthodox filming process, the film, which was recently given a brilliant transfer to Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group, arrives on disc complete with a making of documentary and behind-the-scenes featurette, . . . lamp cord not included.

Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reservedhttps://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made off my site through ad links. FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.