More often than not, we associate the term “rivalry” with a vicious battle between two foes! Usually, both foes are fighting for something greater than victory and these rivalries turn friends into enemies more often than not. In the case of the French film You Will Be My Son, we see an interesting rivalry form between a son and his winemaker father. You would think that it would be hard to fight over wine, but there is much more here than simply arguments over wine. You Will Be My Son clearly captures the expectations of a father and the ambitions of a son, as the latter wishes to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup) is a proud winemaker who takes his work incredibly seriously. He is in his later years, but has aged well (probably due to all that wine) and continues to work hard every day. His son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch), works alongside his father at the vineyard. Martin has always seen himself as his successor, but his father would never want it that way. In Paul’s eyes, his son is nothing like him and does not possess the skills required to run the family business. Demonstrating through his words and actions, we understand that Martin is suffering from all of this neglect.
When Paul’s manager, Francois (Patrick Chesnais), discovers that he’s dying from cancer, Paul begins to worry about the future of his business. Well, that is until Francois’s son Phillippe (Nicolas Bridet) comes out to care for his father. Philippe is everything that Paul has ever wanted in a son and it just so happens that he’s also in the wine business. The more time that Paul spends with Philippe, the further detached he becomes from his actual son. With great dialogue, real emotion and real scenarios, this film unfolds as something of a thriller, telling a great story along the way.
The prospect of one’s son succeeding them is usually a happy thought in the eyes of most fathers. In the case of Paul, he is fearful of the idea that his son may take over all that he has worked so hard on.Gilles Legrand‘s film tells a story grounded in reality and may have you think of someone you know who is or has experienced the same thing. Typically, we hear stories of sons not wanting to go into their father’s business, but You Will Be My Son goes for the exact opposite.
What I loved about Legrand’s film is that it does not feel like a drama. Technically, you could call it that, but it certainly does not present itself as one. The dialogue is sharp, intelligent and French (so it already sounds 10-times cooler!). Niels Arestrup gives a fantastic performance as this awful father, a man able to shun his own child. Despite the character’s difficult traits, Arestrup does wonders with his character. Lorànt Deutsch also gives a great performance as the son who is desperately seeking his father’s approval. In a sense, You Will Be My Son is an accessible film, as surely everyone can relate to trying to get our parents and/or our peers to notice how hard we are working on something. As Martin, Deutsch gives us something to relate to as we try and pick our jaws up off the floor after Arestrup turns on his son, easily and with minimal conscience.
Shot in the ever-beautiful country of France, Yves Angelo‘s cinematography is lovely. Combine France with the sights of incredible vineyards and you have got one of the most picturesque locations to film in. As beautiful and captivating as these locations are, they cannot cover up some of the film’s weaker elements. While the dialogue is great and the actors turn in strong performances, their actions are very predictable. Many times throughout the film, we see Martin messing up and ultimately, it appears the only reason for this is so his father can disapprove of him more and more. At 102 minutes, these particular interactions become tiresome. Overall and throughout the film, Arestrup and Deutsch have such great chemistry, there still remain many moments which are very powerful and very exciting to watch.
You Will Be My Son is a perfect example of a foreign-made film which nowadays shines above an increasing slate of overpriced and underwhelming Hollywood movies. With a simple premise, this film tells a wonderful and upsetting story that is fueled by some terrific and believable acting. Gilles Legrand has made a film that is compelling and interesting which, when combined with the beautiful appearance of the film, and those French vineyards, you are likely set to have a great time with a terrific film.
You Will Be My Son Trailer