Saint Amour, the rollicking yet heartfelt comedy from France about an estranged father and son who find their lives changed after a most unusual road trip, is a must-see at the Victoria Film Festival.

VFF Review: Saint Armour

Monday Magazine reviews this years must-see films at VFF

The old song “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?” gets amusingly turned on its head in Saint Amour, a rollicking yet heartfelt comedy from France about an estranged father and son who find their lives changed after a most unusual road trip. Amour starts at an agricultural fair in Paris, as farmers from all over the country compete for recognition for their crops and animals. A rotund and grizzled Gerard Depardieu plays Jean, a widower who has been retired for five years but can’t resist tagging along with his son, Bruno, to show off his prize bull in hopes of winning the blue ribbon that has always eluded him.

Father and son clearly have a tradition of rubbing each other the wrong way, and Bruno soon skips off with his pal Thierry to conduct their annual “wine tour” – a sodden stagger around the fair’s many display tables where amiable vignerons pour out free samples of fine French wine. “I’m just a dung-covered hick,” wails a drunk and despairing Bruno after he’s deep in his cups: not only a flop at picking up women, he also fears that life is passing him by while all he does is submit to the mucky and backbreaking challenge of raising cows from dawn to dusk. In a fit of compassion Jean takes Bruno under his wing and decides that they will both go on a real wine tour – so they hire a hip young Parisian cabbie and set off on a whirlwind weekend cruise through Bordeaux, Burgundy, and other legendary wine regions of France.

The resulting journey is both droll and picaresque, as the three men slowly reveal their true selves in between comic misadventures, clumsy erotic dalliances, and a memorable sequence of flashbacks as Bruno explains, in candid and humiliating detail, the 10 stages of drunkenness. Despite keeping things mostly light and funny, the sometimes raucous and profane Amour also has a few poignant tricks up its sleeve, and a big, satisfying surprise at the end. The acting is fine indeed, but of course it is the great Depardieu who occupies the centre of the film with a marvelously tender performance as the gruff farmer who in truth is just a gentle, lumbering bear. Wine lovers will find Amour especially appealing, but anyone who appreciates the humanism of European cinema will want a full glassful of this intoxicating charmer.

Rating: ***1/2

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From Mick Jagger to the Dalai Lama: Mary Kerr has set the stage

Vancouver Island set designer wins national Molson Prize Laureate

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Pacific Opera takes music to the streets

Artists travel around Capital Region District this summer for live performences

SKAMpede goes live in July

Beloved annual event returns with changes, pre-registration online

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Parksville filmmaker nominated for provincial Leo Award

Joel Grenz tabbed in ‘Best Music Video’ category

Campbell River teen produces quarantine musical

Ryver Santos Cegnar performed for friends and family over Facebook

Nanaimo Art Gallery summer camp moves programming online due to COVID-19

Teenage artists have until the end of next week to apply to Dazzle Camouflage

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to central Vancouver Island

Only 40 tickets available for each Vancouver Island Symphony private backyard show

Courtenay theatre gets support for livestream ‘hybrid’ shows this year

Island Coastal Economic Trust funds help Sid Williams Theatre with infrastructure, training

Virtual film industry career fair offers chance to talk with the experts

Experts in 11 different departments, three film union representative will be in attendance

Victoria Classic Boat Festival cancelled due to safety concerns

Organizers say Inner Harbour doesn’t provide enough space for physical distancing

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events

Most Read