Great Shot of the Week/ My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
Dir. Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog’s new film, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, is a mess. It has a framing device that comes off as contrived and banal, a series of flashbacks easily segued into one another through characters’ recollections, severely undermining the wonderful tension he builds in these specific scenes. So in lieu of writing a complete piece on Herzog’s new film, I will instead explore what I think works so incredibly well in this film; the individual, fleeting moments, ones that take their time in immersing the viewer in subtleties, moments that may or may not reveal themselves as pieces to a grander puzzle.
What Herzog nails in this film are the tender moments, those of genuine human connection, but always lingering on a bit too long, letting them settle in and evolve in an eerie fashion. It’s no surprise or coincidence that David Lynch happens to be the executive producer, this is what he masters in. Take this scene for example; a conversation between a nephew (Michael Shannon) and his eccentric uncle (the incomparable Brad Dourif), one that feels ominous and foreboding, yet interjects a sort of punchline, a moment that feels both sad and positive, a feeling of not following through on a grand idea, but enjoying the process of coming up with it nevertheless. Then, amidst some inconsequential surrealism, a powerful breaking down of the fourth wall, a moment of creepy intensity that would be overbearing if it weren’t soundtracked to such lovely music. This is Herzog’s film in a nutshell; take individual moments and break them down, and you have a wonderful, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful film. Herzog has always been in top form when he wanders; plot never suited him all that well. Enjoy.