|Niels Arestrup, left, and Lorànt Deutsch, right, in Gilles Legrand's You Will Be My Son|
Photo courtesy of Cohen Media Group
YOU WILL BE MY SON
2013, 102 minutes
Rated R for brief sexuality and language
Review by Joshua Handler
An exquisite and superbly-acted French melodrama, Gilles Legrand's You Will Be My Son tells the story of a man, Paul (Niels Arestrup), who owns a large prestigious vineyard and his tumultuous relationship with his son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch).
Niels Arestrup (A Prophet, Our Children) gives a typically commanding performance as Paul. Paul is a merciless man, only interested in keeping the vineyard under the family name. Arestrup controls every scene he is in. He shows the great love that Paul has for his work, but also the madness he possesses. Lorànt Deutsch is also strong as Martin. Martin is a softer man, beaten down by his father's constant reminders that he is not good enough to run the vineyard. Deutsch captures the fire brewing quietly inside Martin. He shows the resentment and pain marvelously.
You Will Be My Son is a wonderfully-written film. It is an astute study of a father and son relationship and provides psychological complexity. This is a story about a man who will do anything to keep his family's name on his wine, no matter what, and his son who cannot live up to his father's expectations, no matter what. This is a classic story, well-told. The film becomes slightly more melodramatic than it should in its third act, but manages to keep compelling and powerful due to the fact that the screenwriters rarely overplay the more melodramatic aspects of the story.
The film is elegant and rich, just like the wine displayed prominently in it. You Will Be My Son does not reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to. It is comfortable telling the powerful (and sometimes disturbing) story that it sets out to and does so with style.
Overall, You Will Be My Son is a solid piece of filmmaking lightly marred by its melodramatic plot. It is one of the better films to have been released recently and will be rewarding viewing for those who love compelling family dramas about fathers and sons. I was riveted through and through and have absolutely no problem recommending seeing this film.