Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published October 29th 2012
Blood may be thicker than water, but it's wine that conquers all in You Will Be My Son. Set in the French wine growing area of Saint Emilion, this engrossing story of the father from hell lingers long on the palate.
Without a doubt the film's main asset is Niels Arestrup, who, at 63, is having a real purple patch. When it comes to malevolent patriarchal figures, no-one does it better than him. Son actually has a lot in common with another Arestrup film released in France this year, Our Children. Both start with a death in the opening scene, then flash back to the events leading up to that point. And in both films, Arestrup plays a man of power, manipulating those around him, in particular his 'son' and his daughter in law.
As a prestigous winemaker Paul de Marseul has it all, but he doesn't think his son is good enough to follow in his footsteps and take over his company. So when his right hand man becomes gravely ill, he overlooks the heir apparent and chooses someone else to take his place. This decision, and the general way in which he treats his son, sets in place a series of events with catastrophic consequences.
The main character is so unsympathetic that had he been played by any other actor the film would've been quite unpleasant to watch, but Arestrup imbues the father with such complexity and subtlety that he's actually quite fascinating. The other main players are perfectly cast, from Lorant Deutsch as the mousy, put-upon son and Anne Marivin as his the daugher-in-law who's not afraid to stand up to the intimidating tyrant, to Nicolas Bridet as the brash and confident upstart who threatens take over more than just a position in the family owned company.
This is a richly rewarding film which may well have you reaching for a glass of wine and feeling grateful you weren't born into this family.