Thursday, August 1, 2013

You Will be my Son (orig. Tu Seras Mon Fils) [2011]

MPAA (UR would be R)   Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing* listing

You Will be my Son (orig. Tu Seras Mon Fils) [2011] [IMDb] [AC]* (directed and cowritten by Gilles Legrand [IMDb] [AC]*)  along with Delphin de Vigan [IMDb] [AC]* and Laure Gasparatto [IMDb]) is an excellent well-written / well-acted French language (English subtitled) "power family" family drama set in contemporary French "wine country." The film played recently at Chicago's 3rd Annual French Film Festival held at the Music Box Theater in Chicago and cosponsored by the French Diplomatic Mission in the United States.

The film begins with the somewhat diminutive late-20 / early-30-something Martin de Marseul (played by Lorànt Deutsch [IMDb] [AC]*) picking up the cremains of his father Paul de Marsuel (played by Neils Arestrup [IMDb] [AC]*) following his funeral.  He asks the funeral director if the casket is normally burned along with the deceased's body.  The funeral director responds affirmatively.  Martin then asks if the casket was made from Oak.  Again, the funeral director answers, yes, and adds that his casket was made from the finest quality French oak.  Martin then kinda smiles and tells the funeral director that his father always hated oak and wondered how he would have felt to have his ashes now co-mingled with those of his oak casket.  Catching himself, the funeral director assures him that "both body and oak casket are all carbon now ..."  Martin kinda winces (and smiles) once more, thanks the funeral director for his services and proceeds to take the urn with his father's ashes back to his car to take home...

The movie then flashes back to some months earlier.  Martin, the only son of his father Paul is something of the sales manager for his father's grand winery business.  It becomes clear that he'd really like to get into the wine-making part of the business but his father brushes him aside telling him "all in good time, my son, all in good time."  Besides, there's no need for that.  For 20-30-40 years he's had a master winemaker named François Amelot (played by Patrick Chesnais [IMDb] [AC]*) for that. 

But François is ill... And one day he and his wife Madeleine (played by Valérie Mairesse [IMDb] [AC]*) report to Paul and Martin at their manor home to tell them that he has cancer and that the doctors don't give him much chance to live.  After François and Madeleine leave, Martin takes the opportunity to ask if he could take charge of the vintage this year.  His father, Paul, agrees "for now ..." asking him to still lean on the advice from François, to which Martin replies "bien sûr" (of course) and runs off happily to tell his wife Alice (played by Anne Marvin [IMDb] [AC]*), the two having been trying for a long-while to have a child, the news that at least "for now..." (but as far as he could see, "from now on...") he's going to be in charge of the vintage.  One would imagine that the two celebrated quite well that evening ... ;-)

But, of course, Paul has other plans.  These plans involve Philippe (played by Nicholas Bridet [IMDb] [AC]*) the son of François and Madeleine who's inherited or learned well from François' wine making "gift" and was presently the head wine-maker for (Francis Ford) Copolla's wine-making operation out in California (this would be about as brazen a 'product placement' as I've ever seen.  Yet Francis Ford Coppola [IMDb] has been a famous film maker of course ;-).  Paul has François skype Philippe from Paul's estate to tell him of his illness.  Philippe, of course, leaves everything (even at the cost of his job ... mid-summer, just before the grape harvest) to come to his father's side.

And so the grand manipulating Patriarch Paul soon has Philippe, Martin and François all where he wants them.  The rest of the film ensues ... ;-)

It all makes for a very messy "family drama" (no blood, no jokes, just lots and lots of power-plays and intrigue).  And it's all set against the backdrop of the tranquil, rolling "wine-country" of France ;-)

Finally, for those who might be initially scandalized at the thought of a story involving all kinds of betrayal of family loyalties, the Bible is full of stories of such betrayals "at home." (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Absalom and David, etc).   It's NOT right, but the Bible certainly attests that since the Fall sometimes the people who hurt you the most ... are those closest to you.

* Rough (machine) translations of foreign language websites are generally most easily obtained using the Chrome browser.

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