Review: MY SON Is A Resonant And Intense Thriller

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Guillaume Canet as “Julien Perrin” in My Son directed by Christian Carion. Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

My Son is a new dramatic thriller film co-written and directed by Christian Carion. The movie follows a man who, when his child mysteriously disappears, decides to take matters into his own hands in an attempt to find and rescue his son. It has played at festivals including the 2018 Fantasia International Film Festival.

The story of this film is relatively straightforward — it isn’t much unlike any other revenge thriller you have seen — but it is effective nonetheless because of the primal nature of the conflict. Most people would be willing to sacrifice everything for those they love, especially when talking about a parent’s love for their children, so there is an immediate amount of sympathy with the movie’s arc because of that.

Additionally, the film does a very good job of building suspense. With this type of thriller, you never truly know what is going to happen. You can gather hints from the narrative, but there is always the threat of a sudden and unexpected twist that will shock you. Because of this, you will be on the edge of your seat the whole time, wondering where the story is about to go. Furthermore, the movie’s sustained dark tone does an excellent job of building tension.

The characters are also quite well-written. The opening scenes introduce us to the protagonist and his ex-wife, the tensions between the two providing a majority of the characters’ development. Of course, there is the obvious level of immediate sympathy for them because of the unfortunate situation in which they find themselves, but they are further developed through their actions early in the film.

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Mélanie Laurent as “Marie Blanchard” (left) and Lino Papa as “Mathys” (right) in My Son directed by Christian Carion. Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group.

There is a ton of emotion in the movie too, particularly in the earlier portions. Some of the resonance does decrease when it becomes more of a thriller rather than a drama, but the story remains compelling nonetheless. The beginning of the film really does hit like a gut punch as you are watching these parents bickering over such a traumatic issue. It’s a shame that the movie took a more conventional turn.

The best part of the film is almost certainly the acting. The lead actor, Guillaume Canet, gives an excellent turn as the father in distress. He shines brightly both as a potential action star and a serious actor with a phenomenal range. The emotions he conveys, even during the more action-oriented scenes, is truly impressive. Mélanie Laurent complements him well in her small, but effective supporting role, delivering another not-too-subtle emotional display.

The movie is also mostly effective on a technical level. The visuals are heavily rooted in the cold yet beautiful scenery that composes the background of the film. As a whole, the movie looks very dreamlike, giving the film a surreal and distant feeling that accents the narrative quite well. This allows us as the audience to get a glimpse of the almost unbelievable experience that the protagonist is having.

Overall, My Son was a mostly effective movie. Although the first half is undeniably better than the second, the film as a whole is still quite compelling, with plenty of suspense and emotion grounding the story.

My Son opens in theaters on May 10.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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