From time to time, actors are tasked with improvising their lines and performances, which is pretty practical, however when one is expected to extemporize an entire script, then that’s definitely next level and calls for exemplary talent, and if everything isn’t nicely tied in together, then the result can be a terrible piece of art that is so bad to the extent that even the filmmakers themselves are ashamed of putting it out. Well, the new drama ‘My Son’ is a perfect scale in determining exemplary acting skills among the stars in the industry.
This mystery drama film is an English remake of the 2017 French film titled ‘Mon garcon,’ which starred French stars Guillaume Canet and Melanie Laurent. The original version was so successful that the genius behind it, Christian Carion, decided to write and direct an English version.
‘My Son’ stars Scottish hunk James McAvoy, Claire Foy, Gary Lewis, Tom Cullen, Robert Jack, and Owen Whitelaw and was filmed in Scotland during the coronavirus lockdown. This drama premiered on the streaming platform Peacock on September 15.
Mirroring the original, ‘My Son’ was filmed in a totally revolutionary way. McAvoy, who takes over the role of Canet from the French version just like the latter, was not given any script or dialogue, neither was he told how the story would end. The actor had to entirely improvise his performance based on the actions and reactions of the other characters who were totally aware of the film’s plot.
The story follows a young father named Edmond Murray, played by McAvoy. While going on with his everyday life, Murray receives a frantic call from his estranged ex-wife Joan Richmond a role by Foy, Who tells him that their seven-year-old son is missing. He quickly returns to the city where Joan and their son live, and as the pair searches for their lost boy, they realize that he is not missing anymore but has been kidnapped instead. In their attempt to find their little one, hopelessness threatens to overpower them as desperation, exasperation, and feeling of guilt kick in full force. Thrown in a total state of confusion and panic, Murray desperately looks for answers uncovering numerous mysteries surrounding his life along the way. In this case, Murray solves the mysteries step by step together with the audience.
‘My Son’ is not an action movie, so one should not go into it looking for a Liam Neeson’ Taken’ kind of butt-kicking action. It is simply an experience of emotional pain and grief that unbalances the main characters, specifically Murray, as he grapples with the consequences of being an absentee father.
It is bizarre that a project packed with equally strange happening the audience isn’t made aware of from the beginning that the lead character is indeed improvising his dialogue as well as his performance, and the groundbreaking aspect used to define the film will be a secret to those who don’t know anything about the title. And for those who know the background story, it’s a clear explanation why they would feel like the title wasn’t great. However, those who didn’t know the facts would applaud McAvoy for delivering an award-worthy performance as both a screenwriter and an actor.
It makes perfect sense for the mystery of the narrative to be kept as simple as possible, at least for McAvoy. Furthermore, he has to think on his feet regarding everything surrounding his character. However, at some point, taken from the viewer’s perspective, he might seem like a video game character, with the other characters giving hints and clues to the next scene.
The shots are beautifully done, the gorgeous Scottish sceneries well captured, adding aesthetics to the visuals, the long takes are expertly done, and the leads try their best to deliver a convincing performance. The cinematography puts great emphasis on the isolation and dread around this estranged couple, who have made numerous mistakes in the past, feel searching for their son in the immensity of a world clearly hostile to their quest and their innocent little boy. Everything feels so raw. From the internal emotional turmoil, the frantic search for the missing child, the process of unearthing the mystery to actually revealing the truth all together feel very natural. McAvoy’s Scottish accent, too, is very captivating.
When one looks at the plot and the narrative, some red concern flags start to emerge. After quite a great kick-off, the story grows darker as the tale nears its second part. The father-son connection, which is the film’s central theme, feels a bit void in some instances, making the movie simply another save the child from the bad guys kind of a movie.
‘My Son’ didn’t end in a very compelling way. For instance randomly one goes from Edmond on his way to meet the grim ripper after he is shot, then switches to a scene where he is dreaming about experiencing a blissful life with his family. And soon audiences start wondering whether this really is a dream or a long time later. He is then whisked away by the police, and then one of the officers mentions that the judge will take something into consideration, leaving audiences confused, hanging and unsatisfied.
In the end, ‘My Son’ can be described as an average movie as it was a bit slow sometimes and didn’t delve deeper into the bigger picture of the storyline. If the filmmakers had at least explained the sinister situation, the characters are facing. Then it could have been way better. Still, this drama is enjoyable to watch.
The plot might be weak and unsurprising, but this feature will go down in history as one with the most beautiful cinematography, most suitable score, and the most outstanding performances and will probably be remembered for exposing the versatility of James McAvoy as a very talented and skilled actor. It is quite the tear-jerker, though, so be sure to grab a big box of tissues to keep off the waterworks.