Seeing as how My Lover, My Son is more of a melodrama than a mystery-thriller, the way the title reveals a central narrative conceit isn’t problematic. After all, beautiful Francesca (Romy Schneider) lavishes inappropriate attention on her adult son, James (Dennis Waterman), within the first few minutes of the picture. What ensues is partly a study of the psychosexual wounds that provoked the incestuous affair and partly a potboiler about the extremes to which circumstances drive the participants in the relationship. That the picture climaxes with a sensationalistic murder trial gives some idea of the vibe, though My Lover, My Son leavens its lurid elements with a somewhat meditative approach. Although the picture doesn’t work, it periodically draws viewers into the minds of Francesca, so traumatized by past tragedy that she can’t tell right from wrong, and James, hopelessly torn between his abnormal fixation on his mother and his regular-dude impulses to begin a romance with a woman his own age. And since the film is impressive in terms of acting and technical execution, nearly all the faults reside in the murky storyline.
Things get off to a cloudy start with a weird dream sequence/flashback/hallucination during which Francesca recalls the death of her lover, who dove into a pond and cracked his head on something underwater. In the present, Francesca fixates on James, whom we later learn is the son of the lover she lost. Meanwhile, Francesca’s husband, a traveling businessman very much worried about social perception, snaps once Francesca begins making public displays with her son, such as dancing way too close in a nightclub. The story wanders in other directions, notably to James’ troubled relationship with pretty blonde Julie (Patricia Blake), but a violent crime ultimately forces mother and son to deal with the repercussions of their intimate involvement. Schneider’s elegant presence elevates the material, if only slightly, and some viewers may find themselves ensnared by the movie’s engagement with big topics ranging from bereavement to destiny. It’s a heady mix of themes, no matter how clumsy the storytelling.
My Lover, My Son: FUNKY