Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You Will Be My Son

Part of one's cinematic development involves learning to recognize low art even when it's dressed up in haute-couture finery.

A foreign film isn't high art just because it's foreign. Case in point: Gilles Legrand's "You Will Be My Son," which is very much a prime-time soap opera, albeit a rather delicious one. The always imposing Niels Arestrup stars as Paul, the eleventh-generation proprietor of the Marseul wine estate. Paul looks with disapprobation upon his son Martin (Laurent Deutsch), whom he deems unfit to succeed him; Martin has a degree in oenology, but Paul tells him, "You don't have a nose or a palate, only an ear." Martin, who with his wife Alice (Anne Marivin) also lives on the grounds, chafes under Paul's heavy hand and constant disapproval (Arestrup is perfectly cast; he could kill you with a glance), but believes he's biding his time. Until, that is, Paul's longtime business manager Francois (Patrick Chesnais) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his son Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) comes to visit him. Philippe is the chief vintner at Coppola's winery (a touch the writers of "Falcon Crest" would be jealous of), and Paul wastes no time grooming him to take over. It's a great set-up for lots of juicy, pulpy melodrama, complete with catfights, crosses and double-crosses, even a murder plot. And as in any good TV soap, Francois hangs on for so long, you get to thinking he'll outlive us all.

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