Paul (Niels Arestrup) and his longtime business partner Francois (Patrick Chesnais) have been running a successful French vineyard for years. They take a lot of pride in their work and the future is looking bright until Francois is diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live. Now, Paul is forced to take on a partner to help run the vineyard and bring in this year’s harvest. Paul’s son, Martin (Lorant Deutsch), believes himself to be the natural person to fill the position and run the vineyard alongside his father. Martin has been working for the business his entire life, but his father doesn’t have any faith in his ability to help run the business. Instead, Paul recruits the help of Francois’s son, Philippe (Nicolas Bridet), who works for a vineyard in California, but quit to come home and see his sick father.
You Will Be My Son is classified as a psychological thriller, which makes practically no sense to me. Yes, there is a murder in it, but beyond that, it’s a pretty straight forward drama about progeny and legacy. All of the characters are fantastic, especially Paul, who’s contempt for his own son drives him to pursue a partnership with Philippe with bone chilling enthusiasm. Philippe on the other hand is fully aware of what Paul is doing, and finds himself torn between Paul and his father, but the thought of running his own vineyard valued at 30 million euros is hard to ignore.
Somehow Martin manages to be my favorite and least favorite character. There’s a lot of wonderful complexity to his relationship with his father, and even though he lives on this great estate with a beautiful wife (Anne Marivin), all he wants is his father’s acceptance. The problem is that he’s too passive of a character to pursue that want at all. He gets frustrated and immediately starts drinking. Once drunk, he whines like a child and passive aggressively attacks Philippe. It’s a shame, because I see so much potential in how that character could have been written to make him infinitely more interesting.
The film raises a lot of interesting questions about mortality and what people strive to be remembered for once they’re gone. It forces us to examine how we remember those no longer in our lives and how we treat those who still are. It had no trouble keeping my interest throughout with its crisp structure and fascinating characters. Highly recommended, and the blu-ray makes the gorgeous setting pop right off the screen.
Special Features include deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew. Available on Blu-ray and DVD from the Cohen Media Group on February 25.