BACK TO BURGUNDY (Ce qui nous lie)
Music Box Films
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten
Director: Cédric Klapisch
Screenwriter: Cédric Klapisch, Santiago Amigorena
Cast: Po Marmaï, Ana Girardot, François Civil, Jean-Marc Roulot
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 314/18
Opens: March 23, 2018
I don’t “get” wine. I wish I could because wine raises HDL, the good cholesterol. Beer does that as well, but I don’t “get” beer either. In a blindfold test, I would take Welch’s Grape Juice over a $1,560 bottle of 1986 Chateau LaFite Rothschild, notwithstanding the latter’s deep color, medium body, a graceful, harmonious texture, superb length and its penetrating fragrance of cedar, chestnuts, minerals, and rich fruit. So wine provides a good living for many who cultivate it, as we see from “Back to Burgundy,” but money isn’t everything. Relationships: that’s the key to the good life. And that appears the overriding theme of “Ce qui nous lie,” the original French title which means roughly “What Moves Him.”
Director Cédric Klapisch may be best known to cinephiles for “L’auberge espagnole, which thrusts a young, innocent economics student into Barcelona ostensibly to brush up his Spanish but serves as an initiation to life as he mixes with a diverse array of foreign students. “Back to Burgundy” has a large cast serving as a background to development, folks who go to a vineyard around Burgundy to pick grapes during the harvest and who in one scene have one the most spirited parties recorded in the cinema—calling out “wine, wine, wine!” while banging on the table.
You can’t go home again might have been in the co-writer-director’s mind when he focuses primarily on a mid-thirties man, Jean (Pio Marmaï), who left the vast vineyard for Australia, marrying one Alicia (María Valverde) there,leaving behind an aggrieved couple of siblings: his sister Juliette (Ana Girardot) and his brother Jérémie (François Civil). Jérémie and Juliette are particularly angry that the wanderer left them behind to care for the land and, later, for their sick father. They cannot understand why he did not return to Burgundy for their mother’s funeral (he has a valid reason) and, as in many families with some dysfunction, he does not believe his father cared much for him. When the native returns, bearing news of his changed status from the antipodes, he is met at first with hostility, giving him the job of reconnecting with brother and sister after a decade way.
The complexity of relationships finds twenty-something Jérémie living away from home with a successful winemaker who may remind you of Trump, as Anselme (Jean-Marie Winling) wants to buy some of the land to build an airport, a spa, and general tourist facilities. When the three heirs to the land receive a sizable inheritance tax bill, they ponder whether to sell all for $6 million or sell parts to raise the money they need. This runs counter to tradition: you don’t give up property that has been in the family for decades.
The cinematography is a strong point, some of the scene captured with a drone. This is a story that leans toward epic complexities but embracing easy-to-define ups and downs of the three siblings. Typical American moviegoers, however, as opposed to critics and highbrows, might prefer the more informal inputs and recognizable characters from a movie like Alexander Payne’s “Sideways,” as those characters are on merely a trip through California wine country without all the complications of ironing out the wrinkles of a partnership when the decision to sell needs the unanimous votes of the three owners.
Unrated. 113 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B+