You Will Be My Son revolves around a father (played by The Prophet and The Beat that My Heart Skipped’s Niels Arestrup, France’s Edward G. Robinson) who owns a vineyard that has a history and reputation second to few, and his son (played by Lorant Deutsch) who the father doesn’t love because the son just doesn’t have it in him to be the face of the wine company. At first, the movie feels as if it’s going to be one of those been there/done that father/son dysfunctional stories that always seem to have more meaning for the filmmakers than the audience (and often makes me run screaming from the theater). Because of this, the first third is a little hard going.
But then Paul, the father, does something. When the manager of the estate is given six months to live, Paul goes behind his back and tells the manager’s son, shoe fetishist Philippe (who works at Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyard in the U.S.), and Philippe immediately flies back (about the only person who is perhaps portrayed here as meaner than Paul is Coppola himself whose winery won’t give Philippe time off to visit his dying father and fires him when he decides to go anyway—I’m not sure I really bought it, but it was kinda fun watching the French stick it to the U.S. in such a sneaky, underhanded way). At this point, it becomes clear what the movie is going to be about (though it might help to know a little about French inheritance laws) and the nastiness begins, as does all the real enjoyment.
The screenplay by director Gilles Legrand (mainly known over here as a producer, including such films as Micmacs, The Widow of Saint-Pierre and Ridicule), Laure Gasparotto and Delphine de Vigan could have used a touch more Douglas Sirk melodrama (it’s all a bit too subtle at times) and I’m not convinced that Deutsch was the best choice for the wimpy son (I mean, he’s such a drama queen one finally begins to sympathize with the father—that might have been the point, but Legrand doesn’t quite pull it off as far as I’m concerned). But it’s set against some of the loveliest French countryside you’ll see in some time and Arestrup and Patrick (La lectrice) Chesnais (as the manager) are first rate.
Overall, a very neat, effective and perverse little family melodrama with quite a few twists and turns that is highly satisfactory. See it with your first born.
Thanks For Sharing is a movie about sex addiction that only wants to cuddle. I’m not sure I see the point. It revolves around three men (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad) who are all in the same support group and whose stories unwind in just about the formulaic way you think they will. Everyone is very sincere and works very hard and the three leads, along with the significant others in their lives (Gwyneth Paltrow, Pink and Joely Richardson), say their lines as if they were written by Oscar Wilde (it wasn’t—screenplay by director Stuart Blumberg and Matt Winston—Blumberg also wrote that other Mark Ruffalo starrer, The Kids Are All Right—I’m not convinced this is a step forward). But no matter how sincere everyone is, nothing can hide the fact that the whole thing is rather routine, bland and boring. It’s the sort of movie about addiction that actually makes you want to go out and have a drink.
A Single Shot is one of those movies about someone finding either drugs or money and what happens as a result. Movies like this (A Simple Plan, Shallow Grave) are usually described as movies that do absolutely nothing, but do it very, very well. A Single Shot, unfortunately, with all its strengths, only manages to do it somewhat well.
But those strengths are often quite remarkable. Director David M. Rosenthal and writer Matthew F. Jones have created an incredibly convincing small town mountain world where everyone knows everybody. The daily details of this minor municipality have an incredibly realistic feel to them. And both Rosenthal and Jones create a strong mood of despair: it never seems to do anything but rain and no matter how much wide shot country is shown, it all feels very claustrophobic.
The movie stars Sam Rockwell and he, along with the rest of the cast (William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo, Ted Levine and Jason Isaacs), give remarkable performances. Almost no one is recognizable behind their scruffy beards; weather beaten, lived in looks; and less than Walmart quality clothes. And they all sport accents so convincing, there is many a time when you can’t understand a word they’re saying, which is too bad, because Jones has given all the characters often strikingly beautiful lines full of local color, equipped with full blooded colloquialisms and figures of speech.
In the end, the story never really quite comes together in a satisfyingly dramatic whole. Part of this may be because the set up and execution is pretty familiar with a plot that’s not particularly clever. And it’s a little hard to empathize with Rockwell’s character, as well as he plays him, because he never seems to be as stupid as he acts with this new found money (it’s a bit difficult to believe he doesn’t know he won’t attract attention by suddenly flouting hundred dollar bills around). And the menace to the characters involved often seems just a bit too vague; in fact, the middle section feels a little slow in going anywhere.
But one could do far, far worse. One could go see Prisoners.