You Will Be My Son / Tu Seras Mon Fils

Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 00:00

Directed by Gilles Legrand. Starring Niels Arestrup, Lorànt Deutsch, Nicolas Bridet, Patrick Chesnais Club, IFI, Dublin, 96 min

Holed up in a traditional Bordeaux chateau, ageing patriarch Paul (the commanding Niels Arestrup) comes to resemble a gourmand King Lear. For all of the old man’s talk of terroir and pedigree, he behaves appallingly toward his only son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch), a meek fellow who carries a lifetime of parental abuse in every cowed step.

Paul’s behaviour toward Martin’s wife is equally ghastly. Where are his hypothetical grandchildren? Why can’t the couple tell a floral bouquet from a proverbial wheelbarrow of Ugli Fruit? “You need a nose, a palate,” growls the old bully. “All you have is an ear.” Needless to say, dining together is seldom fun.

When Paul’s estate manager falls ill, Martin is determined to prove himself to his father, who, in turn, brings in the manager’s son with a view to adopting him.

Adopting? Huh? No one could accuse Gilles Legrand’s operatic vineyard drama of subtlety. Every character is overwritten; every scene is staged at least twice; every relationship is determined with the force of a broken wine bottle to the face. Can we really believe this level of dysfunction hasn’t come to a head before now? Can we really believe that Martin and his spouse could put up with this? Not quite. But, in the end, the soap opera is enough to keep us amused.

The southwestern light is both hazily pretty and oppressive, but mostly You Will Be My Son is compelling in the way that the trashier episodes of Falcon Crest were compelling.

And at least Jane Wyman had the good grace not to bang on about blasted terroir.