A look at Back To Burgundy (M)
THIRTY-year-old Jean comes back to France’s famous grape growing region of Burgundy after a decade of globe-trotting.
It’s the end of summer and he’s back to sit at the bedside of his terminally ill father and reflect on the approaching grape harvest.
Jean (Pio Marmai) also has the opportunity to re-unite with his sister Juliette (Ana Girardot) and younger brother Jeremie (Francois Civil) as they discuss the future of the family vineyard.
Their lawyer informs them there’s a €500,000 ($A786,000) inheritance tax hanging over them so there’s a few taut scenes over meals and drinks where the siblings discuss their options.
Jeremie has a rather bossy future father-in-law (Jean-Marie Winling) to cope with, a wealthy neighbouring landowner who wants to acquire the family’s land and vines to expand his wine-growing empire.
And Jean has a wife and young son, Ben, back in Australia where he’d settled on a wine estate after travelling through South America.
Still he remains on deck through the harvesting orchestrated by Juliette who, it turns out, has the best palate of the trio.
And as autumn and winter set in Jean’s still in Burgundy despite anxious calls from Down Under from his wife and son.
Interestingly Juliette is not given a romantic partner, as is the case with her two brothers. She does, however, have a brief attraction to one of the backpacker grape pickers although the interest doesn’t flicker again when the second harvest is upon the family and the picker’s there again.
Jean shows his concern about the family’s organically-grown vines particularly when a neighbouring grower starts to spray his rows of grapes with an anti-mildew agent.
The grower and his driver are clad in head-to-toe protective clothing and as their rows of vines are right next door to his Jean orders the machine to be shut down.
Reluctantly the neighbour has to agree.
Director Cedric Klapisch decreed that the filming take place during all four seasons. He even undertook a late summer-early autumn grape picking harvest himself so that he knew what the vintners – and the pickers – go through annually.
Whether he saw at first-hand the grape-throwing between the hyped up pickers we don’t know. But as the scene of mayhem unfolds it’s possible he did.
Juliette finally restores order to end the waste of perfectly ripe and plump bunches of grapes.
Klapisch also shows us the family’s father (Eric Caravaca) in flashback as he tries to teach his children the different tastes of each vintage as they’re growing up.
Although it was the father’s intransigence about Jean’s yearning to attend university which caused the eldest son to pack up and leave.
At one hour and 53 minutes Back To Burgundy is probably a tad too long.
But there are a few interesting sidelights to consider, particularly during the wine-making process.
Who knew you’re perfectly within your rights to toss in a few stems from the vines to produce a slightly acidic taste to the reds as they’re being crushed?