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European films

Back to Burgundy film review: Cédric Klapisch’s engaging familial drama shows how tough it can be in French wine country

You will probably want to uncork a good bottle of vino after watching director Cédric Klapisch’s charmingly old-fashioned and beautifully photographed film, which effectively conveys the rhythms and dramas of rural family life

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 7:02am

3/5 stars

Veteran director Cédric Klapisch’s Back to Burgundy is an engaging familial drama set in the heart of French wine country. Taking place over the course of roughly four seasons and two harvests, it is the story of a prodigal son who returns to the family winery after a 10-year absence.

In that time, Jean (Pio Marmai) has travelled the world, married, become a father and even set up his own vineyard in Australia. But when his own father falls ill, and soon dies, he is reluctantly brought back home.

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Friction is immediately apparent between Jean and his siblings Juliette (Ana Girardot) and Jeremie (Francois Civil), who has married into one of the area’s more renowned winemaking families, and tensions are exacerbated by the family’s winery facing pressing economic issues.

Thanks to some help for the script from real-life winemaker Jean-Marc Roulot (who plays loyal family friend Marcel), Klapisch appears to get to grips with the minutia of viticulture – and just how tough and trying such an existence can be.

While hardly a Klapisch vintage – certainly not compared to his earlier Russian Dolls, starring Audrey Tautou – this is still a well-observed study of the rhythms of rural family life, digging over the emotional soil for the little dramas that make up life.

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Beautifully photographed and capturing the famous region in all its glory, this is a gentle breeze of a film. True, it suffers from one too many flashbacks, but there’s also something charmingly old-fashioned about Back to Burgundy. You will probably want to uncork a good bottle of vino after the screening.

Back to Burgundy opens on February 22

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