My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny, Udo Kier Director: Werner Herzog Werner Herzog's latest film is based on a real-life case in San Diego in 1979 in which a troubled young actor became so absorbed in his role in a Greek tragedy that he killed his mother with a sword. The film opens in a police car with detective Hank (Willem Dafoe) regaling his partner Vargas (Michael Pena) with a tale about his exchanges with a corrupt traffic policeman. They then receive orders to head to a crime scene where a Mrs McCullum (Grace Zabriskie) lies stabbed to death. The detectives head across the street and try to arrest her son Brad (Michael Shannon), who has locked himself in with two 'hostages'. While contending with Brad's raving demands, Hank tries to piece together the story with the help of Brad's fiancee Ingrid (Chloe Sevigny), drama director Lee (Udo Kier), and neighbour Mrs Roberts (Irma Hall). The film's main allure lies in the mysteries of the case. Brad seems to have become mentally disturbed by his stage role as the mother-slaying Orestes, but Herzog weaves in a thread about Brad going mad after a trip to Peru. A lot could be said (or not) by the oatmeal container the barricaded Brad rolls out of the house - a flask with God's 'image' on it - or the flashback in which Brad, with Lee in tow, visits his homophobic, racist uncle's ostrich farm, where the birds race along to the score's flamingo music and one of them eats Lee's sunglasses. Much like his take on Bad Lieutenant - released earlier this year, and which also comes complete with a crazed cop who sees visions of wild iguanas - Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is at heart a study of an obsessive, nearly deranged mind. And Shannon is Herzog's 21st-century version of Klaus Kinski, as he pushes the folly of his Brad to gripping excellence. Perhaps taking a leaf out of the oeuvre of the film's producer, David Lynch, My Son rises beyond its plain noir veneer with surreal sequences that make American suburbia very, very eerie - there's a pastel-coloured landscape with houses ranging from bland to kitsch while its inhabitants are naive to perplexing. It all adds up to a very engaging experience. Extras: Ramin Bahrani's short Plastic Bag, with Herzog giving voice to the doubts of a plastic bag; interviews with Herzog and co-screenwriter Herbert Golder.