“My Son” jumps into its missing-child scenario from Frame 1 and snowballs into a tense and intense, if at times too-conveniently plotted, mystery thriller. Think a more bare-bones, French-language “Taken.”
This engrossing, propulsive film, which director Christian Carion (who co-wrote with Laure Irrmann) shot in sequence over just six days, stars Guillaume Canet as Julien, a career-first father hellbent on tracking down his 7-year-old son, Mathys (Lino Papa), who was likely abducted from a kids’ nature camp.
Regretful over his recent absence from Mathys’ life — plus perhaps his split from Mathys’ mother, Marie (Mélanie Laurent) — Julien becomes a one-man fight club as he rashly pieces together clues to the boy’s whereabouts.
Julien screws up en route, but with the help of video footage, a license plate number and a harrowing sequence involving a handy blowtorch, zeroes in on the murkily drawn bad guys. Havoc, of course, ensues. Despite hints that Julien’s globe-trotting job involves risk, how he got so tough is one of the film’s many just-go-with-it elements.
Canet (also currently in “Non-Fiction”) proves especially gripping, given his reportedly improvised role: Carion, who previously collaborated with the actor on “Joyeux Noël” and “Farewell,” revealed the film’s story to him only as they shot. Laurent has several superb moments as the conflicted Marie, and Olivier de Benoist registers as her obtuse boyfriend.
In French with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Starts May 10, Landmark Nuart Theatre, West L.A.