Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup) is the legendary proprietor of a prestigious vineyard in Saint-Émilion, which he maintains alongside ace viticulturist François (Patrick Chesnais). When the latter is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Paul’s mild-mannered son, Martin (Lorànt Deutsch), steps forward to assume his birthright. But the uncompromising patriarch doubts that his progeny has the passion or the palate to do the job. Enter Philippe (Nicolas Bridet), François’s dashing son; he’s freshly returned from an apprenticeship in the Napa Valley, and unwittingly heats a simmering father-son rivalry to a boil that threatens to scald every person, place and Merlot grape in its path.
Evoking a contemporary fable but unfolding like a thriller, You Will Be My Son is most of all a devastatingly realistic depiction of the festering resentments shared between a father and son. Arestrup plays the larger-than-life, ever-open-collared wine master with the queasy charisma of an august movie star, dominating both the screen and anyone with the temerity to share it with him. Deutsch is something of a weak link, at times overplaying Martin’s Fredo-esque wimp-itude, though such ineffectuality does complicate papa’s monstrous shenanigans. It’s a human-size tragedy, one that shows how deadening it can be to remain subject to those who give us life.
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