Not so much Werner Herzog's return to his former persnickety, off-the-wall, idiosyncratic feature-film-making self as a reprise of his greatest hits, the overloaded My Son, My Son staggers and sometimes comes to a complete halt. Or maybe that's the point: from time to time, the characters simply freeze in place.
Is this an allusion to the deadpan weirdness of the producer, David Lynch? Or is it a reminder, along with the dwarf cameo, that Lynch was in fact influenced by Herzog's 1970 film Even Dwarfs Started Small?
Such musings crop up when the narrative — which is based on the true story of an actor who took his role as Orestes home with him and killed his mother — runs a little dry. Willem Dafoe plays a detective who chats with the crazy guy's wife (Chloë Sevigny) and drama teacher (Udo Kier!) while they wait out a hostage crisis. The film can be funny and even epiphanic, but when Brad Dourif and an ostrich doesn't get a laugh, you're trying too hard.