YOU WILL BE MY SON
Widower Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup) and his grown-up son, Martin (Lorant Deutsch), live in uneasy and dysfunctional proximity at the family's wine chateau, Martin with his wife Alice (Anne Marivan). Martin excels at administration, but his domineering father has kept him out of the winemaking process. It's Paul's long-serving estate manager Francois (Patrick Chesnais) who helps Paul make the domain's famous wines. When Paul learns that Francois has a terminal illness, he half heartedly offers Martin a chance to step up, but he also secretly recruits Francois' son Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) who quits his Californian winery job and flies home, setting up conflicts between them all.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Father v son or father & son? A theme frequented by filmmakers, the father/son relationship is powerful terrain for drama and Gilles Legrand explores it with a fearless sensibility in You Will Be My Son. Even the title sounds like an order, and in the hands of Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup), it is. Arestrup forges a wonderfully complete but dreadfully unlikable Paul, a man whose family traditions prop up his arrogant and domineering personality. He shows his worst side to his son Martin (Lorant Deutsch), a young man whose humiliation is his daily routine.
Martin and his wife Alice (Anne Marivan) have a brittle relationship with Paul, and Alice is not shy to make her dislike obvious. But it's when Martin sees a chance to step up and have his father's more positive attention that the seeds of tragedy are sown. The moment comes when long serving estate manager and wine maker Francois (Patrick Chesnais) falls seriously ill and has not long to live. Into his shoes Martin hopes to step but Paul won't allow it. He has no faith in Martin, indeed, he resents and despises him.
When Francois' son Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) flies back from his Californian winery job to visit his sick father, Paul offers him the job - and more: he offers him a partnership, a place by his side. He even offers to adopt him.
The screenplay explores the effect of this chasm between father and son and the impact it has on those around them, including on the dying Francois - whose relationship with his son is quite the opposite. The film is made with all the skills that Legrand has honed as writer, producer and director of many films, engrossing and as taut as a thriller, thanks also to the great performances.
Arestrup doesn't flinch from his character, a proud man with a sense of tradition, whose unfatherly attitude towards his son becomes his overpowering characteristic. But Arestrup is too good an actor to deliver a caricature. Deutsch is terrific as the son living in his father's shadow and under his thumb, a vulnerable and pain-soaked performance.
We never doubt the veracity of the vineyard and the winery; the detail is thorough and the storytelling eloquent. It's a tough film and you may like to have a glass of good red on hand at the end.
Review by Louise Keller:
Wine does not tolerate hesitancy says Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup), successful and arrogant vineyard estate owner whose life revolves around the creation of the perfect wine. He believes the complex aromas tell a story - like a woman's perfume - and believes that by sprinkling a few of his father's ashes into the vats, the quality of the family's winemaking tradition will be kept intact. The cross Paul bears is that of his son Martin (Lorant Deutsch), who is his greatest disappointment.
By contrast, Philippe Amelot (Nicolas Bridet), the charismatic son of Paul's winemaker Francois Amelot (Patrick Chesnais), is everything a father could wish for. It is he who has the good nose and palate required to develop the wine of Saint-Emilion, not Martin, whose role to date has been administrative while keen to learn the art of being a winemaker. All he wants is a chance; all Paul can think of, is how best to continue the family business.
Among the serene, beautiful vineyards and the chateau in which they live, there are a series of fierce battles taking place. Firstly, Francois is battling a terminal illness, which is what prompts Philippe to visit his ailing father from California. As the dynamic changes, with Philippe clearly better qualified to take over the business than Martin, Paul's scheming ambitions become obvious, playing favourites.
Arestrup demands our attention as he portrays an essentially unlikeable character, whose fatherly instincts are absent; all he offers his own son are scorn, humiliation and emotional suffocation. Subsequently, jealousies arise between the two young men, like a poisonous disease among the vines, as it becomes clear that Paul favours his winemaker's son above his own.
In a change of scenery, when Paul is invited to accept a prestigious award, he takes Philippe to Paris with him. As they check into the plush Grand Intercontinental Hotel, with its large foyer full of white orchids and its spectacular mirrored, circular ballroom, Philippe is mistaken for Paul's son. The caption in the newspaper article that is published the next day also identifies him as such. The 2,900 Euro shoes Paul gifts Philippe are the final straw - for Philippe's father. The repercussions reverberate as the major battle is set - between the two fathers, for whom winemaking has been their entire lives.
This is a potent story about fathers and sons and filmmaker Gilles Legrand builds beautifully and devastatingly on this theme. There is great irony in the contrast of the hatred and jealousies portrayed in an industry whose elegant product is created for pleasure. When the moment of truth arises, there is no hesitancy.
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YOU WILL BE MY SON (M)
Tu seras mon fils
CAST: Neils Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Anne Marivin, Nicolas Bridet, Valerie Mairesse, Jean-Marc Roulot, Urbain Cancelier, Xavier Robic
PRODUCER: Gilles Legrand, Frederic Brillion
DIRECTOR: Gilles Legrand
SCRIPT: Gilles Legrand, Delphine de Vigan
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yves Angelo
EDITOR: Andrea Sedlackova
MUSIC: Armand Amar
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alise Bonetto
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 1, 2012
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