The bully of Bordeaux coun­try

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

YOU WILL BE MY SON/ TU SERAS MON FILS ★★★ 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.

Vin de Lear: Niels Are­strup in You Will Be My Son

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