We all love the literary motif of the unwilling prostitute who, at the end of the story, does virtuous deeds to save herself and others. In Crime and Punishment, Sonya is instrumental in Raskolnikov’s redemption. Director Robert Davi uses the same formula to tell the story of President’s Biden son in My Son Hunter.
Grace struggles to pay for her college tuition, so she is a favourite escort of powerful men. As she encounters Hunter Biden in a world of cocaine, wild sex, and rampant corruption, she offers him a path to redemption — and of course, he rejects it.
Now, Davi is no Dostoevsky — nor does he intend to be. My Son Hunter is first and foremost political satire, all-too-frequently engaging in cheap shots. But it does take a stab at Dostoevskyan psychological profundity, and in that endeavour, it partly succeeds.
The shadow of successful Beau Biden — Hunter’s deceased brother — looms large over Hunter, who struggles to find meaning in life. Very much as Raskolnikov, he comes across as a pathological narcissist who engages in criminal activity as a way to prove to himself that he is so great so as to be above the law.
Unfortunately, My Son Hunter often goes overboard and loses effectiveness. I lost count of the number of times Joe Biden sniffs the hair of women in the film. Is that necessary? That portrayal runs the risk of playing into the left-wing narrative that criticisms of the Bidens focus on petty things that can be easily dismissed.
The stakes are high, so a more focused and incisive portrayal was needed. Say what you want about Oliver Stone’s leftist politics and penchant for conspiracy theories, but he surely can strike an opponent in his films — Richard Nixon and George W. Bush being the most notorious cases.
The story of Hunter Biden lends itself to Stone’s sober cinematographic style, but My Son Hunter misses an opportunity, to the extent that it aims for low-hanging fruit. Yes, the Bidens are corrupt, but one is left wondering: can they be that corrupt? While the dialogues between Joe and Hunter are clever and amusing, the perversity defies credibility. Perhaps Davi was deliberately aiming more for Saturday Night Live’s lampooning style all along. If so, the film works at some level, but never entirely.
I would have personally enjoyed a more sober style because there is a far darker theme in the film. My Son Hunter is not about the moral failings of a privileged, corrupt drug addict. It is not even about crony capitalism and globalist elites. The real central theme is the media’s rot.
Two scenes are particularly frightening. At the beginning of the film, Grace is at a Black Lives Matter protest, and records some of her comrades engaging in violent deeds. A fellow activist says: “You can’t post that video… it will make the protest look bad… Those people are too ignorant to understand complex moral issues. You have to withhold things for their own good. We choose truth over facts.” Grace acquiesces.
Towards the end of the film, Grace summons a journalist to expose Hunter’s corruption. The man tells her: “Even if what you are saying is true, it’s not news. We have the chance to take down a fascist dictator [Trump]… I’m sorry Grace, this one is not for me.” We now know that Twitter and Facebook — with their disturbing algorithms — were not the only ones trying to bury Hunter’s laptop under the sand.
As Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged, the FBI itself pressured him to do so, because they did not want the bad Orange Man to win the election — all with the excuse that the whole story was Russian disinformation. Later on, both the Washington Post and the New York Times had to reverse their stance and admit that, in fact, the laptop does contain compromising emails.
Plato infamously recommended telling people the Noble Lie. Very much as the Black Lives Matter activist in this film, Plato believed such lies were for people’s own good, as they were too stupid to understand things. In his seminal study of totalitarianism, Karl Popper persuasively argued that Plato’s plan became a central tenet of totalitarian regimes. That is the real fascism.
While being far from a perfect film, My Son Hunter provides meaningful insight on this issue, and hopefully it might become an important step towards much-needed media accountability in this woke age.
For the time being, we need to be realistic. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hollywood to make an Oliver Stone-like blockbuster about the corruption and hypocrisy of the Left.
Rather, keep an eye out for low-budget productions like My Son Hunter that are bypassing the Hollywood production and distribution system. These include Uncle Tom I and II, various Christian films, such as Run, Hide, Fight.
They will not be great works of art, but at least they will be something. And from there, the quality of such films may gradually improve, until we again see mainstream studios portraying corrupt politicians from both sides of the political spectrum.