My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done


My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 41


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,437
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Movie Info

Brad (Michael Shannon) has committed murder and barricaded himself inside his house. With the help of his friends and neighbours, the cops piece together the strange tale of how this nice young man arrived at such a dark place... Based on a true story, this gripping and unnerving blend of deadpan comedy, melodrama and raw tragedy is fleshed out by an expert cast, including Willem Dafoe and Chloë Sevigny.

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Michael Shannon
as Brad McCullum
Willem Dafoe
as Detective Hank Havenhurst
Grace Zabriskie
as Mrs. McCullum
Udo Kier
as Lee Meyers
Brad Dourif
as Uncle Ted
Michael Peña
as Detective Vargas
Loretta Devine
as Miss Roberts
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Critic Reviews for My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (21)

  • What they deliver is the sort of fake mysticism that usually ensues when secular intellectuals try to plumb the depths of religious faith.

    Jan 3, 2011 | Full Review…
  • My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done finds God in a cereal box and Satan on an ostrich farm.

    Sep 9, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Xan Brooks

    Top Critic
  • Unsettling but in a good way.

    Sep 9, 2010 | Rating: 4/5
  • My Son, My Son... may be a minor work in the Herzog canon but it's still one of the more fascinating, frustrating, disturbing and beautiful experiences available to cinemagoers this year.

    Sep 8, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • One of Herzog's quirky misfires.

    Apr 8, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Confounds all convention and denies all expected pleasures, providing instead the delight of watching Herzog feed the police hostage formula into the Mixmaster of his imagination.

    Apr 8, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

  • Apr 01, 2012
    Brad McCullum: Some people act a role, others play a part!  "The Mystery Isn't Who. But Why." I really have no idea on what to think of My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? It's definitely a weird and interesting film. It has some bizarre performances, especially in the case of Michael Shannon. The film is shot beautifully, and has the stamp of of both Herzog(a good thing) and of Lynch(in my opinion, most of the time, a bad thing). At times the movie is absorbing and you forget that you're actually watching a movie. At other times it began to get very tiresome and I became aware of every second of my life the film was taking up. In the end, it was actually a pretty hard film to get through, which is irritating because I really expected to like it. I love Herzog, and I definitely love the cast of Dafoe, Shannon, and Savigny. Still, I can't say the film is a good one. In fact I'd almost sway to the side of not recommending this to anyone, but I'm sure there are people who will be able to find the masterpiece that is hidden somewhere below the surface. I'm under the impression that it is there, I just couldn't find it. Maybe upon another viewing in the future, I will be able to. Hopefully. It really does have the Lynchian feel to it. Many scenes felt like they had his fingerprints all over them, and that really annoyed me. I don't know for certain that that is true, but just the thought of Lynch having any control over the end product makes me a little nervous. You should know that I really just don't like Lynch. I've seen many of his films and of the ones I've seen, I can only say I like Blue Velvet. So his involvement here just irks me, especially because it compromises the film in my opinion because I could see him wanting at least a decent amount of artistic control. I wish Herzog was the only name selling the film; I think it would have turned out better.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 08, 2012
    An unbearably pretentious bore concerning a mentally unstable man (Michael Shannon), convinced he has been spoken to by God, who kills his mother after journeying around the area of Southern California and becoming more detached from society. What sounds like a thrilling, surrealistic probing into a familiar but still fascinating subject falls flat on its face due to a nearly incomprehensible screenplay loaded with weird characters that do not feel natural to the story. David Lynch was clearly brought in here to give some of that Lynch-ian surrealistic atmosphere, but it all feels so fake, hollow, and forced. The acting is the only dependable aspect of this film, where Michael Shannon shines brightly yet again, and Brad Dourif has a memorable cameo although his character doesn't really serve any real purpose to the story. Werner Herzog and David Lynch are two of my favorite film-makers, and the combination of both of their talents should have been a home-run. Instead it's a full, blown-out bore of a movie that is not as eerie or suspenseful as it thinks it is. What a waste.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2011
    In "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done," San Diego Police Detectives Havenhurst(Willem Dafoe) and Vargas(Michael Pena) respond to the scene of a murder. If they want to talk to the suspect, then they should try Brad McCullum(Michael Shannon), the tall guy they just passed with the coffee mug.(Oh and while they're at it, could they find out where he got his coffee?) It seems he killed his mother(Grace Zabriskie) and has now taken hostages. Thankfully, Brad's girlfriend Ingrid(Chloe Sevigny) is on hand to fill in the blanks. "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done" is a Werner Herzog film presented by David Lynch and lives up to its promise of craziness enough for me to give it the barest of recommendations. While not much of it makes sense, it allows the filmmakers to fully explore their obsessions, Herzog with insanity, Peru and, well, obsessions while Lynch will always have his coffee. Not that it is relevant, with the exception of Grace Zabriskie, the casting leans towards Lars von Trier territory and Michael Shannon moves another step towards becoming a running joke, as the movie lurches perilously close towards unintentional comedy. If you cannot guess who Brad's hostages are, then you have not been paying attention.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 04, 2011
    I really like Werner Herzog and David Lynch, two great (some might argue brilliant) directors. So you'd think the combination of the two would yield epic results. Not so much. I'll be the first to admit that I really don't know what the hell this movie was trying to say. There's lots of the Herzog signature randomness, which can sometimes work (like the great Bad Lieutenant), but here a lot of it just seems weird for the sake of weird. Still, I have to admit, Michael Shannon fit the part, whatever that means in this case. On a side note, I loved Brad Dourif's role. He is unquestionably one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Those of you that doubt me need to check out the exceptional X-Files episode, Beyond the Sea.
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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