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My Son (2021) Movie Review

Mystery / Thriller

By Diresh SheridPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
38% Rotten Tomatoes | 6/10 IMDb

The pandemic has brought about a new era of cinematic experiences, where films are being watched and made in ways that have never been seen before. From horror films on Zoom to Anne Hathaway robbing Harrods, these films are either admirable ingenuity or a reason to simply put down your tools and bake some banana bread instead. However, there is one film that stands out from the rest, one that has received little attention and has been treated like toxic waste – My Son.

To understand the journey of My Son to the bottom of the streaming drain, one must go back to 2017 when the French thriller Mon Garçon was released. The film introduced a unique concept to a generic subgenre, with Guillaume Canet given just a six-page character outline and told to improvise his way through the story of a man looking for his son. The film was a modest success in France and received mixed-to-positive reviews when released in the US, a gamble that paid off enough for the director, Christian Carion, to want to do it all over again.

In October 2020, it was announced that Carion would be partnering with STX for an English-language remake of Mon Garçon, filmed in Scotland with James McAvoy taking on Canet’s role and Claire Foy as his ex-wife. The gimmick would remain, with McAvoy having to freestyle his way from lost to found, a predicament that would create “real tension” according to those involved. Cut to almost a year later and the film is now being chucked on to Peacock, NBC’s streaming service in the US, for a three-month period before being offloaded on to the Roku channel.

The recently released trailer refers to My Son as “a groundbreaking film-making achievement” with McAvoy calling it “an experience that no actor gets to have.” However, the audience isn’t made aware of this at the start of the movie itself, and so for most people who stumble on to it, the “groundbreaking” element will be a secret. For those who do know, it’s at least a valid explanation for why the film is so very bad, with stilted, on-the-fly dialogue and a paper-thin plot justified by the improv nature of it all.

The film follows McAvoy as he attempts to find his missing son, with actors revealing clues that propel him to the next scene. McAvoy is an accomplished performer, so even in the film’s shoddiest moments, he’s never exactly bad. However, taking on the role of screenwriter is an understandable stretch, with every line either boringly perfunctory or laughably messy. The bullish hubris of My Son, which suggests that a feature-length thriller can essentially be scrambled together out of thin air by an actor rather than one of those useless writer people, predictably crumbles as we go through the very dull motions of a very dull film. There’s not a single revelation, scene, or line of dialogue that rises above the level of sub-average, and there’s no amount of dramatic thriller score or sweeping Scottish scenery that can distract from the rot of a project that was cursed from the outset.

One can understand why McAvoy was attracted to it, a chance to challenge himself as an actor at a time when work was also thin on the ground. But the entire film places the viewer’s experience at the very bottom of the list, as if our enjoyment is of little to no interest, and instead we should feel honored to sit in on an indulgent and deeply, punishingly uninteresting acting class.

In conclusion, My Son is a film that tries to experiment with a unique concept by giving the lead actor, James McAvoy, just a six-page character outline and asking him to improvise his way through the story. While the idea may have worked for the original French film Mon Garçon, the English-language remake falls flat on its face due to poor execution, lackluster writing, and a total disregard for the audience's experience.


About the Creator

Diresh Sherid

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