Wine is thicker than blood – that’s the message in Gilles Legrand’s You Will Be My Son. The film won’t boost sales of Bordeaux wines in that way Sideways did for Californian Pinot Noir but, arguably, Bordeaux doesn’t need the help.
The film, released in 2011, begins with a funeral. As the story unfolds, we see the steps that led to it.
At first glance, the film may seem a simple family drama set in the vineyards of Saint-Émilion, but it gradually transforms into something much darker.
Winemaker Paul de Marseul, played by Niels Arestrup, is planning for the future of his estate. His son, Martin, has all the qualifications needed to be his logical successor – on paper, at least. However, Paul has no respect for him and leaves him relegated to office duties.
With a harsh cruelty, the father never misses an opportunity to undermine his son, while the son quietly sucks it up as he bides his time.
Out in vineyards and in the cellars is Paul’s long-time estate manager, François Amelot, the man behind much of his success. Without François’ knowledge of the grapes and blending, Paul may not have risen to the top of the industry.
However, François has been diagnosed with cancer – and Paul needs a successor more than ever.
Cue the arrival of the handsome and charming Philippe, played by Nicolas Bridet. Philippe is François’ son, who returns from the vineyards of California. Without giving too much of the plot away, Paul offers him his place at the helm of the business.
Long unspoken resentment soon rises to the surface – and results in a murder.
I saw the film recommended in a list of top-ten French films of the last ten years. With its wine theme, I was surprised I had missed it the first time. I ordered it straight away. (It’s readily available to buy on Amazon and elsewhere.)
“The denouement is somehow the logical conclusion of all that has gone before it. It’s not contrived, but completely believable”
What is satisfying about You Will Be My Son – Tu Seras Mon Fils, in French – is that the denouement is somehow the logical conclusion of all that has gone before it. It’s not contrived, but completely believable.
It is by far the best wine-related film I have seen since Sideways. That Arestrup and Bridet were nominated for Césars for their performances is also entirely just.
It’s a film I’ll happily raise a glass of Saint-Émilion to.