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Sunday 22 April 2018

Sun shines on vineyard

Paul Whitington

You will be my Son

(Club, IFI, 102 minutes)

Director: Giles Legrand Stars: Niels Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Anne Marivin, Patrick Chesnais


Viewers watching the opening scenes of Giles Legrand's Tu seras mon fils (You Will Be My Son) could be forgiven for running away with the impression that this is a serious drama. To the glorious but ominous strains of Vivaldi's Stabat Mater, a man in early middle age watches a coffin being slowly shunted towards the greedy flames of a crematorium. He is Martin de Marseul (Lorant Deutsch), the put-upon heir to a prestigious Bordeaux chateau vineyard, and we're left to guess who's in the coffin as the film jumps back in time.

Martin is the son of Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup), a high-handed and tyrannical estate owner who believes that the entire purpose and meaning of life can be found in the bottom of a fine glass of Bordeaux.

Perhaps he's right, but that doesn't make him any more likeable, and it soon emerges he has not exactly been an ideal father to his son. Though Martin in theory will one day inherit the cherished family estate, Paul has absolutely zero faith in his ability as a winemaker, and misses no opportunity to let him know it.

And when his estate manager Francois Amelot (Patrick Chesnais) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Paul decides to replace him with Francois' son Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) rather than his own.

Everyone drinks a lot of wine in You Will Be My Son, and I found myself envying them because a couple of stiff glasses of rouge would definitely have helped ease the pain of having to sit through this sunlit pantomime.

Despite the presence of heavyweight actors like Arestrup and Chesnais, it feels a bit like Dallas in the Midi, but without the jokes.

Despite Arestrup's best efforts Paul is a cardboard villain, and the son we're supposed to be rooting for looks like Trevor Horn from The Buggles and is an irredeemable drip.

In other words, you root for no one, and a camp Shakespearean ending adds little to the lustre of this bland and silly movie.

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