Mon Garçon (My Son) – Christian Carion

Guillaume Canet is excellent as the desperate father seeking his kidnapped young son in Christian Carion’s taut thriller. Reworking a theme seen recently in the hugely successful Taken series and Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoner, Carion takes the action to snowy eastern France. A bleak area of the country which reflects the icy relationship between Julien (Canet) and his ex-wife Marie (Mélanie Laurent) and her new boyfriend Grégoire (Olivier de Benoist).  Apparently shot in just six days and with Canet improvising his scenes, the hunt for Mathy’s abductor has an urgency and pace which last the course of the film’s relatively short running time of just 84 minutes.  Julien’s evolution from genial geologist to violent hunter is less credible. As he searches for Mathys, he develops a sadistic streak at odds with the storyline.  And his ability to draw conclusions from the weakest of clues starts to wear thin quickly.

Geologist Julien loves his work and travels around the world following his passion. This is one of the reasons why his marriage to Marie broke down and he rarely sees his young son.  On a rare visit to France, his son disappears while on a school trip in the mountains. And Julien is determined to discover who abducted his son at whatever cost.

Canet is full of surprises. His last film, Rock’n Roll was a delightful self-parodying film which showed great comic timing. Changing genres, Canet is back on territory he has explored both in front of (La Prochaine Fois Je Viserais le Coeur, L’Homme qu’on Connait Trop) and behind the camera ( Tell No One). Laurent is good as the traumatised mother stuck in between a jealous ex-husband and a jealous boyfriend. Carion wowed audiences and critics alike with his Oscar-nominated WWI drama Joyeux Noel. Mon Garcon delivers on its initial promise, but is unlikely, despite its strengths, to create the same buzz.

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