You Will Be My Son

Opera snippets at the opening suggest something bold awaits us in Gilles Legrand’s film, but banality ensues for a long while thereafter. Is this meant to show that, like a fine wine, a protracted and increasingly melodramatic father-son feud needs time to mature? Helpfully, this one actually is set in a French vineyard. Niels Arestrup commands the screen as an imperious wine estate patriarch, who decides, as his managing partner (Patrick Chesnais) succumbs to cancer, that the partner’s son (Nicolas Bridet) should inherit their business. “He’s Coppola’s head winemaker,” we’re told of the young hotshot, so it’s not completely out of nowhere, eh? Still, this presents a problem for the magnate’s actual son (Lorànt Deutsch), an admittedly meek and simpering man who spends most of the movie marinating unhappily in his father’s contempt. So after many realistic scenes of this family strife, the eventual drunken nightmare of drowning in a fermentation tank, shoved down by dad, makes perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn’t add much. Legrand presides calmly over some juicy Bordeaux business-insider info, and some fine performances, particularly Arestrup’s, but the story itself, co-written by the director with wine historian Laure Gasparotto and novelist Delphine de Vigan, can’t seem to keep from sagging. By the time that operatic boldness returns, it’s all but flavorless. This must be the difference between letting a thing breathe and leaving the bottle open too long.