October 16, 2019

MY SON and the Previously TAKEN Path

MY SON (2017)
Starring Guillaume Canet, Mélanie Laurent, Oliver de Benoist, Lino Papa. Directed by Christian Carlon. (85 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😸

Since My Son (Mon Garçon) hails from France, allow me to lay a little of my French fluency on you: Deja vu.

Other than omelette du fromage, that’s pretty-much all the French I know, so it’s a happy accident that deja vu describes how I felt watching this one. My Son shares the same basic concept and plot as Taken, with stylistic and tonal differences the viewer will either find tedious or refreshing. I leaned toward the latter.

Guillaune Canet plays Julien, whose estranged ex-wife, Marie (Melanie Laurent), calls with the news their son, Mathys, is missing. The police inform him the boy may have been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Marie’s new husband Gregoire (Oliver de Benoist) appears to have already written-off Mathys in their future plans, which includes selling Julien & Marie’s old house. Already distraught, Julien accuses Gregoire of being behind the kidnapping and beats the merde out of him.

"I know you are but what am I?!"
This further alienates Marie and angers the police. But frustrated at their inaction, he begins to search on his own. Though Julian’s professional background remains ambiguous, he appears to have his own set of "particular skills" not-unlike those of Bryan Mills (perhaps working on the opposite end of the legal spectrum). However, Julian is not a stoic one-man wrecking crew, nor does he develop a complex plan to locate the kidnappers. He’s clever, but seems to be operating by the seat of his pants and driven just-as-much by emotion as intuition. In other words, he behaves like a desperate father.

The first half is admittedly pretty pokey, including too many scenes of Julian driving around the countryside. Once he’s on the trail, however, the tension mounts almost exponentially. But unlike the flashy, kinetic mayhem in Taken, the action in this film is more grounded in reality. Not as audience-rousing, perhaps, but arguably more plausible and still pretty damn suspenseful.

This doesn’t necessarily make My Son a better film than Taken. However, it’s an interesting, down-to-Earth variation of the same basic story. Canet is no Liam Neeson - nor does he try to be – but his growing desperation makes him a relatable protagonist. Some initial patience may be required, but it’s ultimately worth the effort. Très bon.

FEATURETTES - “The Making of My Son”; “Behind-the-Scenes with Christian Carlon & Guillaune Canet


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