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.

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

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Most Read