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You Will Be My Son

You Will Be My Son

Released 14 December 2012
Director Gilles Legrand

Niels Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Anne Marivin, Nicolas Bridet, Jean-Marc Roulet

Delphine de Vigan, Laure Gasparottto, Gilles Legrand
Producer(s) Frédéric Brillion, Gilles Legrand
Origin France
Running Time 102 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating TBC

The grapes of wrath.

The patriarch of one of France’s most renowned vineyards Paul de Marseul (veteran French actor Niels Arestrup) undertakes a quixotic quest to maintain high standards and tradition when his best friend and caretaker Francois is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This involves ousting his son and heir Martin (Lorant Deutsch), a business savvy young man who unfortunately lacks the necessary palette to run the yard, in favour of Francois’s prodigal son Phillipe (Nicolas Bridet), who owns his own vineyard stateside and has only made a brief jaunt home to say goodbye to his dying father. What unfolds is a well-breathed but saggy family drama with a hint of betrayal, a pinch of vengeance and just a dash of murder.

The film’s main ingredient is also its most engaging one; an effective character study of a man who has been completely corrupted by his land and its traditions. Arestrup absolutely dominates the screen, and while the other actors give good performances, they hardly hold a tee in comparison. Playing a character not so dissimilar to his Sicilian underboss in A Prophet, he excels in every respect. Something of a Bull McCabe figure in his obsession with the vineyard, Paul is a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Sons can be changed as easily as shoes and subtlety does not exist; one of his undeniably French lines is, "I’m not fond of Martin", uttered as if his business maestro son were a bad chardonnay. But while Arestrup captivates as the undisputed bastard of the winery, it quickly becomes clear that the story is lacking in every respect. Plus, every second sentence is a wine reference. I have no doubt that oenophiles will be in grape heaven.

Despite excellent performances overall, the film’s plot feels over ripe and outstays its welcome, with a sloppy ending to boot. The character of Martin, a decent person caught in a web of deceit, continues to lack the mettle to stand up to his father as he stabs his blood in the back repeatedly, despite help from a strong and elegant wife, and that’s just downright unfulfilling.

- Cathal Prendergast