The New York Times has a review today of a new French film in current release, You Will Be My Son, about an egotistical master vintner in Burgundy and the son whose winemaking instincts he scorns.
I’m thrilled this is going to be in theaters in the U.S., because I saw it last June on the plane home from Montreal, in French, and it was so well acted I thought the airline must have made a mistake–you know, putting in a good movie by accident instead of Alvin and the Chipmunks, various cheap CGI-driven “futuristic thrillers”, all the stuff that went straight to DVD and that you don’t really want to pay Netflix or Blockbuster an additional 5 bucks to see.
Much along those conventional lines, and starkly in contrast to You Will Be My Son, is a wine movie I highly recommend–skipping, that is, and which I also saw on a plane back from London several years ago. Believe me when I say that if Bottle Shock was the “hidden gem” of the selection as the in-flight magazine claimed, the rest of the movies available must have been just unwatchable.
Bottle Shock was supposed to be based on Judgment of Paris, George Taber’s nonfictional account of an upset between Californian and French premium wines in a 1976 blind tasting, but came out looking more like “Daisy Duke Does Napa”. With Alan Rickman thrown in (age 57ish then, and eating KFC onscreen, incompetently) in the role of the 29-year-old wine buff who set up the competition. And the late Dennis Farina, in a pink ascot, substituting for the wine buff’s 30-year-old female business partner. And Sam Rockwell’s ’70s longhair wig was like a bad toupee gone wild.
OK, do go find a clip or so of Bottle Shock (or is it Bottle Schlock?) for those times when you’re punchy and want something that will give you that entertaining “clawing my eyes out” sense of superiority over an unbelievably putrid movie. With big-name movie stars ™.
No, really, don’t do it. Don’t do it. See You Will Be My Son instead. Part family drama, a little bit thrillerish, twisted and fascinating without any of the American movie must-have cliches, it will keep you on the hook long after you’ve left the theater. And the actors are subtle, intelligent, individual and believable. The whole thing is gripping and so different from the current insipid-explosive American style you’ll want to go raid the library for better-made oldies like All the President’s Men and The Manchurian Candidate.
Only one sour note: Skip the New York Times review itself. In his attempt at selling the appeal, which he didn’t really need to do, the reviewer stuck in a lot of the plot details, to the point where I feel the need for a spoiler alert. You Will Be My Son doesn’t need all that–it’s solidly made and it works well from the beginning. Go see it.