My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

2009 black comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: This is the story, loosely based on a true story, of Brad, a guy who loses his mind after his mother serves him Jello one too many times and ends up killing her with a sword. He barricades himself in their house with a pair of hostages while a pair of detectives work on piecing together possible motives and look for a way to get to him.

This isn't a true collaboration exactly, but it certainly feels like one. And for this viewer, it's a David Lynch/Werner Herzog collaboration is a collaboration made in heaven. Or in the subconscious of a schizophrenic maybe. Lynch apparently had very little to do with this, but Herzog pays homage to the producer with a few scenes--a random gas mask, a couple really strange scenes where the actors freeze and break the fourth wall by staring into the camera for a long enough time to make me kind of uncomfortable, conversations about coffee, and a little fellow in a tuxedo. Oh, wait. Herzog uses little people, too. The acting reminded me more of Lynch's characters than Herzog's, speaking in those slightly-off cadences, stilted almost, and somewhat unnatural. I'm not sure if this works as a drama, and anybody watching this as a Law and Order type thing might be disappointed. I caught on quickly enough that this is more dark comedy than crime thriller/drama, more a glimpse at the world as seen through the eyes of somebody with a damaged mind than anything realistic. And who better to show us that world than Werner Herzog? Flashbacks, especially anything having to do with Brad Dourif's Uncle Ted, seem so insubstantial and too dopey to be real, but they work to add up to what gets to the heart of the crime--that Brad is one cuckoo mo-fo. Could that have been explained more naturally? Of course, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. At times, I'll admit, this almost seems like a parody of both Herzog and Lynch's work. Those Uncle Ted scenes, the use of animals, the aforementioned unnatural acting, a character losing his mind in South America, chickens doing something crazy, God as a canister of oatmeal, all those conversations that seem so detached from anything that matters, and so on. I suppose folks who enjoy a chunk of either directors' filmographies will find something to dig in this one. It's probably not essential, more like a limerick or some other nonsense verse written about insanity rather than the poetic look at insanity that Aguirre is. But it is very entertaining. The title, a full sentence by the way, still makes me laugh. I don't see how a person can read that title and think that this is a serious attempt to make a crime drama.

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