My Son tells the story of divorced parents Eddie (James McAvoy) and Joan (Claire Foy) who experience their son going missing whilst he attends a camping trip. To increase tension even more, McAvoy was not given a script prior to filming, and all his scenes are improvised. An intriguing mystery and terrific performances are put forward, though unfortunately the behind the scenes footage may be more interesting than the movie itself.
Written by Becca Johnson
If McAvoy (Split) hadn't proved his talent prior to My Son, his performance here easily solidifies him as one of the greatest actors working today. Eddie is filled with frenzied grief as he stops at nothing to find his son, but he also battles with being seen as a negligent father by his ex wife and her new partner, as his job forces him to leave the country for long periods of time. McAvoy does well in showing all the struggles and emotions of his character, which is heightened by the fact his performance is largely improvised. This element not only gives the movie a unique edge but makes it incredibly raw and realistic. Claire Foy does well in her role as an upset Mother who has not only had her son go missing but previously lost a baby. Unfortunately, she's not given enough to work with and her talent is massively wasted; this is McAvoy's gig, it's all about him.
My Son, directed by Christian Carion, is a remake of his own movie which released back in 2017 in the French language. English language remakes of foreign cinema are becoming popular as of late, with The Guilty dropping on Netflix in October and popular 2020 release Another Round being slated to have an American version with Leonardo Dicaprio in the lead role in the near future. It begs the need for critics to pose the question 'is this movie interesting enough for a remake?', and where My Son is concerned, it's difficult to tell. The movie doesn't overstay its welcome, clocking in at 95 minutes, but it's not paced particularly well either. Though the plot gives us an ongoing investigation into somebody's disappearance, not a great deal actually happens, and the run-time is clogged with scenes of McAvoy hurriedly driving around.
On the flip-side, it's refreshing to see a slow burning thriller that doesn't rely on the need for heavy misplaced action scenes and overacted emotional segments. Much of this movie feels reminiscent of a BBC drama, and the right audience will find this an intense and thrilling watch. It's not an original idea yet it feels fresh and new, and the fact it's competently made and well acted helps this. There are a few plot holes and aspects that deserve more development, such as Eddie's job and Joan's child loss, and its difficult not to think that a longer run-time with all areas developed better would've made for a more cohesive film. However, the ending has satisfying pay-off for the slow first and second act which makes it feel worthwhile.
The highlight of My Son is easily its acting. Though many may see McAvoy's improvised performance as a gimmick, he stole the show and created a character worth rooting for. The story has enough intrigue to keep most of the audience invested, and the short run-time doesn't demand attention for too long. However, Foy's lack of dialogue and screen time is unforgivable, and the script may often believe itself to be more thrilling and intense than it actually is. It's easy to feel underwhelmed by the time the end credits roll, as it doesn't quite offer enough to sink your teeth into.