My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Herzog, 2009)
As expected with Herzog, this movie is wild. I kept hearing that it was funny in an absurd sort of way, though after hearing the audience laugh to make themselves more comfortable at a viewing of Aguirre, I shouldn’t be surprised that’s how this is viewed. In reality, it’s what I consider a warm and serious look at a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Herzog doesn’t coddle, psychoanalyze, or mistreat his protagonist. He just tells the sad tale of a man who needed help and never got it.
Michael Shannon is perfect in the lead role, slowly letting himself succumb to the goings on in his head. Despite the movie being about the murder of his mother, there are several moments of tenderness. While in Canada, he descends an ascending escalator, walking but not moving, and gazing in wonder at an endless tunnel of glass windows. In moments like these you can feel the complicated nature of the mind and it’s easy to understand how fragile it might be.
The story is told through police interviews of the protagonist’s fiance and close friend. This is definitely where the film suffers as it almost seems to be channeling a noir effect, which doesn’t fit with the rest of the film’s style or tone at all. So while Herzog still has an eye for the strange and unusual, he might be losing a bit in his story constructions. But I can most definitely overlook this flaw to see an important film shining through. 8.75/10