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My Son 2021 9

My Son: McAvoy makes it up

Riley Riley

I wonder which performance James McAvoy is more proud of, X-Men or the virtually unknown 2021 film My Son.

I’m betting it’s My Son, a remake of the French film of the same name Mon garcon written and directed by Christian Carion.

A. Because it’s a serious film about a very serious subject and;

B. He had to ad lib the whole thing. That’s right, there was no script. The actors had to make up the dialogue as the action unfolded.

Carion used the same approach with the French version shot in 2017 starring Guillaume Canet.

Starring James McAvoy and Claire Foy, My Son tells a story of parents despair at finding their seven-year-old son is missing, presumed kidnapped.

Who took him and why? Not even the actors knew in an attempt to illicit a genuine, spontaneous response to the situations put before them.

McAvoy plays Edmond Murray, a jet setting oil worker who returns to the Scottish Highlands after he gets a  call from his distraught ex-wife who tells him their 7-year-old son Ethan is missing.

As police dredge the lake it soon becomes clear their child has been kidnapped, sending Murray spiralling out of control as he searches desperately for answers.

Of course, the police immediately think he had something to do with the disappearance, especially as he is no longer on the scene and his wife has a new boyfriend.

But Murray knows different and he pays his ex-wife’s new partner, Frank, a visit.

My Son 2021 9
Claire Foy and James McAvoy in My Son.


Discovering Frank plans to build a new home without a bedroom for Ethan, he becomes angry, accusing Frank of being responsible for his son’s disappearance.

The two get into a fight and Murray ends up in gaol.

After a night in the lockup, Murray meets with the officer in charge of the case, Inspector Roy (Gary Lewis), who informs him that he has been taken off the case without explanation.

There is a suggestion the decision is political and has something to do with his work.

While looking through Frank’s phone, Murray finds photos of a mysterious car in the background of videos leading up to Ethan’s disappearance.

After finding the owner’s address, an increasingly desperate Murray decides to pay him a visit.

As the tension builds and the situation becomes clear, it’s difficult to believe the actors had no script to work off.

My Son is a low key thriller that relies on tension rather than action to lock in the audience, but that’s not to say that it isn’t violent.

It’s amazing what ordinary people will do faced with extraordinary situations, and if you have to hand it to the actors for improvising – that can’t have been easy.

You’ll recognize McAvoy from the X-Men franchise in which he plays a younger version of Professor Charles Xavier, with appearances in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019).

He’s a real rags to riches success story, having been raised on a housing estate in Drumchapel, Glasgow by his maternal grandparents (James, a butcher, and Mary), after his parents divorced when James was 11.

Claire Foy of course found the spotlight as a young Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown television series for which she has received international recognition.

The role earned her a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

You’ll recognise Gary Lewis too, an excellent actor who is best known for the 2000 film Billy Elliot.

You can catch the very watchable My Son on Prime Video.


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Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

An interesting technique that delivers the results.


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