In ‘My Son’, Edmond Murray (James McAvoy) and Joan Richmond (Claire Foy) are distraught after discovering their seven year old son Ethan is missing. It is strongly suspected that the child has been kidnapped and as Inspector Roy (Gary Lewis) questions Edmond about his background, questions arise as to whether Ethan may have been targeted. Edmond starts to suspect Joan’s new partner, Frank (Tom Cullen), among others around him. With little evidence arising as to what happened to Ethan, Edmond begins to take the investigation into his own hands.
‘My Son’ has a forceful and eerie opening as we see Edmond find Joan devastated. Tragedy and shock permeate their reunion, as they have just learned that Ethan has vanished. Claire Foy and James McAvoy are magnetic from start to finish of the feature while Gary Lewis is well cast too. The Highlands of Scotland too make for a stunning, enigmatic backdrop, feeding into the ambiance. But for all its solid ingredients, the final formula of ‘My Son’ is let down by its wandering script.
The film, to put it in context, is an experiment by writer-director Christian Carion in which our lead – James McAvoy – had no script and thus had to improvise his own lines, thus adding to the character’s sense of exclusion and anxiety. Carion previously used the technique in his French version of the film, titled ‘Mon Garçon’, with actors Guillaume Canet and Melanie Laurent. The technique had middling success with the critics but now Carion has attempted an American remake.
Unfortunately the final result is not only dull, but bleak. But McAvoy does deserve kudos for taking on the challenge, and is exquisite as a father torn apart, a scene in which he watches home videos proving especially heart-wrenching. Moreover, anyone familiar with the actor’s oeuvre (notably works like ‘Split’ or ‘Trance’) knows he can turn on the crazy instantaneously – and boy, does he get to show that off here.
But then that characterisation is a part of the problem, as what you end up with is this jumbled up mess of a movie that goes from harrowing, sincere drama to over-the-top revenge thriller in a manner that just doesn’t sit right. ‘My Son’ is unlikely to be all that memorable, but it a reminder of just how talented McAvoy is.
'My Son' streams on Amazon Prime from Friday, 21 January.