What do we really know about each other? With the role in the mother-son road movie "My Son" Anke Engelke finally establishes herself as a character actress.
Mother and son, the primal motif releases images. On stage, in the movies. They range from antiquity to pop culture. Oedipus, "Psycho", "Terminator". The sexualized mother, the mother as a pathological control monster who can only be gotten rid of by murder, the mother as a fighting machine with a protective instinct, as a mother beast shooting around.
Lena Stahl’s finely unnerving feature film debut doesn’t think much of this kind of exaggerated mother cult and nevertheless reflects the classics of control mania and care – only the eroticized mother is left out. "My Son" is a quietly told road movie that allows itself pauses and omissions and develops a certain gruffness after the conventional beginning.
The voids in the conversations between Marlene, a Berlin photographer, and Jason, her son, perfectly capture the tone of generational incomprehension that so often exists between parents and their rebellious children, who are in their early 20s and want to do their own thing.
What do we really know about each other? This unspoken question suddenly becomes concrete between Marlene and her son Jason. The professional skater, who rolls at the beginning in slow motion as a cool high-flyer over the Warschauer bridge and the culture forum, claps after a drug-pregnant party night in the Tran against a car.
Lights dance, the board flies away in slow motion, fearlessness and exuberance are followed by respirator and coma. Mother and companion rush to Urbank hospital.
Anke Engelke, who has never acted more seriously and with more concentration than she does here, and who has finally conquered the character field with "Mein Sohn," makes every gesture in the desperation and helplessness with which she confronts the badly injured man. Childish Jason, on the other hand, played by Jonas Dassler as a brash, blond-haired headchecker, photographs his scars like trophies as soon as he thinks he’s on top again.
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The fact that Marlene, as he calls his mother, has won and financed a place for him in an exclusive Swiss rehab clinic and even wants to drive him there in her old Volvo is certainly no reason for gratitude for him. He’d rather get loudly upset about mother’s encroachment.
How many years have you not eaten?
The car ride to Switzerland turns into an exchange of blows between the youthful provocateur and the worried mother, which is bound to lead to a rapprochement. The (developmental) journey is enlivened by laconic trace elements, such as Marlene’s question "Tell me, Jason, how many years have you not eaten??"with which she comments on his snarl at the rest stop.
Or the episode with the rasped mother cake, which the hippie commune at the self-catering farm of friend Sarah (Hannah Herzsprung), where they stop, spreads on the casserole, to Marlene’s horror.
["My son" runs in seven Berlin cinemas]
"A birth is a moment between life and death," Marlene whistles at the pregnant Sarah, who, to Marlene’s horror, wants to have the baby not in the clinic but on the dropout farm. The deadly seriousness in her words makes it clear that Marlene, a single parent at the time, was not only once a punk herself and gave up a career in New York for the sake of her son, but also carried with her a deeper birth trauma.
The psychograms of a fearful and a fearless man, for Jason seems to be nothing else, unfold in Lena Stahl’s clever screenplay as if in passing.
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Friede Clausz’s camera enhances the intimacy of the confined space in the car, exploring the incessant furtive questioning of each other’s expressions. "My Son" features a fine cast of actresses, including Max Hopp and Golo Euler, right down to the supporting roles. Only the Swiss mountains seem far too many days’ journey away.