When family politics and governmental politics mingle in The Whore’s Son, the result is a little muddy, but touching all the same. Michael Sturminger’s film chronicles the growth of Ozren, a Yugoslavian boy raised in Vienna by his boozing, pro-Tito custodian uncle and his working-girl mom who turns tricks at the brothel upstairs from their small apartment. Ozren learns at a young age what it means to be a whore and, more importantly, what it means to be a whore’s son.
To the movie’s credit, the boy reacts to these revelations with little outward emotion, leaving all his Oedipal confusion, anger, and remorse for us to discover ourselves. The film strays a bit when it gets into the Yugoslavian civil war and the family’s homesickness, all of which feels like an underdeveloped afterthought tacked on for extra significance. As important as those political issues are, they’re trumped here by a boy’s simple love for Mommy.