Fantasia 2018: Review of Mon Garçon

Guillaume Canet, left, and Mélanie Laurent in Mon Garçon (My Son.)

Mon Garçon is so ordinary that I don’t understand how and why it was made. Are stars Guillaume Canet and Mélanie Laurent really popular enough to sell it?

We have seen this plot before: A child has disappeared, presumably kidnapped. The distraught parents are divorced, separated or still together but distant. The authorities aren’t doing enough to find the child, so the father (usually) takes things into his own hands and if that means electronic surveillance, threats, fisticuffs, breaking-and-entering, or whatever, he’s OK with that.

Formulas like that can and do work, but regarding Mon Garçon, all I can say is “meh.”

Julien (Guillaume Canet) and Marie (Mélanie Laurent) are indeed divorced. Their son, Mathys, (Lino Papa), was at a winter camp in the mountains, but he vanished during the night. Did he run away or was he taken? If the former, how long could he survive outdoors in the cold? If the latter, who took him, what do they want, etc.?

There are hints that some people or entities might have a grudge against Julien because of his previous work abroad. He tells the cops that he’s a “geologist” but who knows, really? Whatever he was doing, it kept him away from his wife and child and presumably led to the divorce. Now he’s feeling guilty for being an absent father.

The film is less than 90 minutes long, but it feels much longer because a ridiculous amount of time is devoted to scenes of Julien at the wheel as he drives all over tarnation checking out various clues. It’s like watching several very long car commercials. (Product placement?)

Guillaume Canet does a lot of driving in Mon Garçon.

SPOILER: Sort of. Eventually Julien finds some bad guys. Very bad guys. But for me, there were too many boring bits before he found them.

After watching the film, I found some articles that said it was shot in only six days, in chronological order and almost in real time. Director Christian Carion says the film is a story about man who doesn’t know what he will find. Carion wanted Canet to discover things bit by bit, just as his character was doing, so he did not give Canet a script. The actors and crew members were not allowed to tell him anything about the plot, either. There was a lot of improvising. That explains a lot!

After watching the film, I found some articles that said it was shot in a mere six days, in chronological order and almost in real time.

I like to keep things positive around here, so I usually write about films I DO like, rather than spend any time writing about the ones I don’t like. On the other hand, film fans only have so much time and money to spend and there are so many other films at Fantasia that I would recommend over this one.

Mon Garçon (My Son)
Director: Christian Carion
Writer: Christian Carion
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Mélanie Laurent, Olivier de Benoist, Antoine Hamel, Mohamed Brikat, Lino Papa
From: France (shot in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of eastern France.)
Duration: 84 minutes

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