When we first see the titular character of “My Son Hunter,” a chaotic, low-budget agitprop film that conservative website Breitbart released last week, we see him entering an LA nightclub (The movie was actually in Serbia shot, kind of Los Angeles of the spirit.) Pictured from behind in a kind of one-take-shot, cheap Henry Hill entering Copacabana in “GoodFellas,” Hunter Biden, the President’s son (played by the British actor Laurence Fox) makes his way through the venue; snorts a line of cocaine before cockily, if inexplicably, dumping more than half of it on the floor; and enters a VIP room, where he begins telling everyone what’s what. “My friends, it’s time for a bloody party!” he booms as he settles in to watch exotic dancers cavort under the watchful eye of a host named Lorenzo, who decides, as is often the case with a strip show, to let the audience know their pronouns before the performance begins. At one point, a dancer named Kitty breaks the fourth wall “The Big Short” style, turns to the camera and says, “Don’t judge me. I’m doing this to pay off my college debt.”
That’s what American liberals want, the film seems to suggest: powdered drugs; club rats who are adamant about their confusing gender identities; scantily clad dancers who forsake their feminine dignity to afford an education (wait, whose fault is that?). But “My Son Hunter” has higher ambitions than offering a cultural critique of excessive dem cosmopolitanism. Their stated intention is to uncover the allegedly corrupt business relationship between the President and his son. The film promises, among its revelations, “sex, prostitution, drugs, nepotism, money laundering, more sex, a laptop from hell,” not to mention “Chinese spies, Ukrainian ‘businessmen’,” and “the sellout of America.” Like them say don’t threaten me with a good time!
Hunter, now fifty-two, has lived a life of trauma. When he was a toddler, his mother and little sister died in a car accident; then in 2015 he lost his brother Beau, President Biden’s eldest son, to a brain tumor. He has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for much of his adult life. (“It’s an endless tunnel,” he told this magazine in a 2019 profile. “You can’t get rid of it.”) And yet, in recent years, there has emerged a widespread fascination with the garish elements of Hunter’s saga that read like a combination of prime-time soap Dynasty and punk tale Please Kill Me. There is his romantic relationship with his late brother’s widow; his 2019 marriage to Melissa Cohen, a woman he met a week before the wedding; the bacchanalian hookers and crack benders who are said to have sent him zigzagging between luxury hotels and garage sale motels; and the Arkansas woman who sued him for paternity of her child in 2019. From a narrative perspective, these stories positioned Hunter as the juicy libidinal alternative not only to the Trump kids desperate for dad’s approval, but to the snoozy bloodlessness of the Biden ticket itself. (As a friend of mine once tweeted, “Hunter Biden is the Hunter S. Thompson of our generation.”) A cache of leaked emails and photos was added in October 2020, twenty days before the last presidential election. The files, found on a laptop that Hunter appeared not to have picked up from a Delaware repair shop — and later confiscated by the FBI — suggested a life marked by drug use, wild sex, family feuds and tangled business deals .
The laptop, which Hunter and his attorneys have yet to confirm or deny possession of, was first reported from New York post, while mainstream news organizations treated it with skepticism. (Recently, it emerged that Twitter and Facebook also suppressed the story ahead of the election, fearing it was part of a disinformation campaign.) Conversely, supporters of Donald Trump dismissed the files as a “smoking gun.” – Evidence of President Biden’s improper involvement in deals his son struck with Ukraine and China. The laptop also serves as the narrative site of “My Son Hunter,” a heady concoction in which Hunter’s foibles are viewed only as outward signs of a deep political conspiracy that reaches to the Liberal pinnacle. It’s a story that, according to actor Dean Cain in an interview at the film’s premiere, “needs to be told, and it wasn’t told by the mainstream media.”
Cain, whose most memorable role was the male lead on ABC’s mid-’90s series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, has been known for his conservative views in recent years. Although not part of the cast of My Son Hunter, his profile matches that of some of the film’s main cast. That includes the film’s director, Robert Davi, a singer and actor best known for playing heavys in ’80s and ’90s movies (a purring banger in Richard Donner’s adventure romp The Goonies; a seedy strip club owner in Paul Verhoeven’s beloved turkey “Showgirls”), but who has recently found his profession as an online Trump booster; actress Gina Carano, who was fired from TV show The Mandalorian last year after posting on Instagram a comparison between the alleged persecution of American Republicans and Jews during the Holocaust; and Fox, who played the son of a marquess in 2001’s “Gosford Park,” and twenty years later ran for mayor of London under his own anti-political correctness “Reclaim” party, winning 1.9 percent of the vote in the election. Neither of those numbers are what you’d call an A-list, which makes “My Son Hunter” feel like a film that’s conspiracy-oriented on at least two levels – Hollywood’s betrayal of this industry aspirant dovetailed with its alleged deception of the American people by the President and his son. The project’s offended, brave expression reminded me of the star power hiatus that was Trump’s inauguration.
Technically, Davis Film’s rollout was messed up and inappropriate. Though My Son Hunter prides itself on being a film that liberals “don’t want to see,” it often seemed like Breitbart didn’t want me to see it either: access to the film was an hours-long Via Dolorosa of error messages , unsent “monitoring codes” and seemingly endless attempts to log in, all for the rather steep price of twenty-two dollars. (So much for the efficiency of private enterprise.) This reflected the messy nature of “My Son Hunter” itself, a amateurish, often shitty, if very occasionally vulgarly amusing, satire-with-thriller-with-melodrama-with-propaganda organ that switches between modes with the dizzying unexpectedness of a surrealistic cutup. The Hunter character is a ridiculous degenerate, but the distorted-faced fox has little of the Hunter’s questionable good looks and charisma. Still, he’s a crack-smoking, easygoing woman-loving horndog who loves the good life, which we can tell by the wild party he throws for a dozen strangers in his bungalow on a set meant to represent the Chateau Marmont. (His familiar name check from John Belushi…”[He] died in the next bungalow. . . . He had some demons” — oddly clashes with how the film envisions the famously bohemian luxury hotel, complete with corporate art on the walls that looks like it was borrowed from a Radisson in Dubuque.) To add to the chaos , animated elements sometimes invade the screen, such as when a partygoer’s lap dog sprouts thought bubbles introducing himself to Hunter as “Shirley” and warning him that everyone in the room is “free riders,” or when a cartoon image of a frantically banging Tickers on-screen to represent Hunter’s heart after he draws a line, only to be confusingly shown to slow his roll after he takes a hit of crack.
Much like his son, the President (played by John James, a one-time Dynasty mainstay) seems to be in a near-constant state of inappropriate arousal, repeatedly sniffing the hair of his Secret Service agent, played by Carano, and referring to Tara Reade , the assistant who accused him of sexual assault, as “a fragrant young lady”. Relying on zero factual evidence, the film also portrays the elder Biden as a criminal don who takes kickbacks from the shady international deals his son orchestrates. (“Damn it, better yet, my breakup!” he tells Hunter menacingly at one point.) A particularly wacky sequence meant to illustrate this corruption involves the two Bidens dancing with a trio of Ukrainian oligarchs and a prostitute, during Dollar bills rain down on them and a “rap” track plays. (Among the chosen lyrics: “This is how we play… I cut my heels.”) To round out the portrait, Joe is also a senile dork who calls Hunter’s laptop a “top lop” and, apropos, resembles nothing “Corn Pop”. (“He was a bad guy!”) Much of the film is devoted to confusing “re-enactments” of Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine and China, scenes that seem more than anything like a combination of Wikipedia-style summaries with really bad wigs . “It is a country that shares its eastern border with Russia. And this eastern territory is rich in fossil fuels, so Russia is dying to have it,” Carano’s intelligence agent helpfully explains.