Coming Soon: "You Will Be My Son"

You Will Be My Son, a French film opening in select theaters this Friday, takes place at an old and well-respected vineyard in Saint Émilion, and follows the increasingly strained relationship between Paul, the owner and winemaker, and Martin, his son and would-be heir. The already stressed father-son dynamic reaches a crises when François, the estate manager, falls ill, leaving the impending harvest in jeopardy. Martin, trained in viniculture, wants to take over, but Paul doesn’t think he has the talent. François also has a son, Phillipe, who has traveled the world studying winemaking and is currently in California working for Francis Ford Coppola. With his father in the hospital, Philippe returns to France and quickly wins over Paul, who all too easily pushes Martin aside to offer Philippe the vineyard, and even tries to adopt him. Within this plot lies a meditation on human behavior that explores issues of family, class, loyalty, love, tradition, and change. Paul, obsessed with his own legacy and horribly cruel to Martin, is nearly impossible to like, but the other characters are more difficult to pin down. It’s easy to pity Martin, but some of his actions, and especially his moments of inaction, are infuriating. Phillipe seems to have goodness inside him, but he’s also proud and too easily impressed by Paul. François is worn down by poor health, but shows surprising guts near the end of the film. In addition to all those heavy themes and complicated characters, You Will Be My Son, is also about winemaking. Mirroring the father-son struggle, the vineyard is devoted to its own history and tradition, but also slowly showing signs of modernization and change. When a piece of grape sorting equipment breaks, Paul, Martin, and Philippe are forced to buy a new model. While bargaining for a better price, Philippe, a symbol of the new guard of wine makers, insists that an even newer piece of equipment that’s being developed will make this one a relic. Being a foreign film, distribution will be limited, but You Will Be My Son is worth seeking out. It opens exclusively at New York’s Paris Theater on Friday, but will debut in Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Seattle, Phoenix, and a few other cities in September. Check out the trailer on YouTube.

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