You Will Be My Son

Niels Arestrup, Nicolas Bridet and Lorànt Deutsch

It has taken two years for You Will Be My Son (Tu seras mon fils, France 2011) by Gilles Legrand to find its way to San Francisco and the film opens on Sept 20 at Landmark Theatre. The film stars Niels Arestrup as Paul de Marseul, the head of a winery in France who wants to leave his estate to Phillipe Amelot the son of his manager Francois (Patrick Chesnais) who is dying of cancer. This does not set well with his own son Martin (Lorànt Deutsch) who wants to take over some day. Nicolas Bridet as Philippe was nominated for an acting award at the French national awards, the César, for his portrayal of a young man with ambition and questionable morals. This film is on the order of a Greek tragedy with a power struggle that contrasts father and son as abuser and abused.

You Are My Son is technically proficient with many intriguing layers including dream states. You grow to hate Paul,  and that is to the credit of the French Danish veteran actor Nils Arestrup. But you also grow to dislike Martin, who fits the role his father has carved for him as a sniveling, self-destructive man, falling into the traps laid by his cruel father. Not everyone is on the level in this film either. Francois is jealous and resentful, and like Paul has control over his son Nicolas. Neither son is free to act alone and even when they do threaten to leave remain in this wine estate, whose owner has received the distinction of the French government for his work. 

Anne Marivan and Lorànt Deutsch
Apart from all these sons and fathers is a standout acting performance by Anne Marivin as Alice, Martin’s wife, who not only loves her father in law’s sniveling son, but stands up to the father and keeps Philippe in place. Anne alone brings sanity to the entire cloak and dagger scenario.

There are reasons however why Paul has turned into a twisted man, but even in his twists we learn that he has never learned how to straighten out the kinks and share his gifts with his employees and family. His bitterness makes you think that wealth is often in the hands of the undeserving, especially those whose trials have forced them to succeed but the success is meaningless since there is no love involved in the pursuit.

The acting performances are commendable and although the character contrasts are stereotypical, the beautiful French wine country is breathtaking. Wine tasting is included for the connoisseur, something I have never understood, since it seems like a waste of energy to detect if there is peach or rose in the yearly wine crop. But this does make sense in the closure of the film that those who have learned how to mix elements always appreciate the right combinations.

© 2013 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/18/13
Movie Magazine International