Leaving the cinema after a 'family road trip' comedy, you might expect to have enjoyed a chuckle or two, or merely the occasional wry smile. Saint Amour, the new film from Belgian directors Delépine and Kervern, offers something much rarer. A laugh-a-minute romp through France's wine regions, Delépine and Kervern’s film is the utterly silly and warm-hearted surprise hit of this year’s Berlin festival.
The film kicks off at the annual agricultural show in Paris, where dairy farmer Jean (Gerard Depardieu) has arrived with his son Bruno to show their livestock. As the sensitive Bruno (Benoît Poelvoorde) proceeds to let loose, growing drunker and more emotional, Jean decides it’s time for a break. The father and son hail a local cab and set off on an impulse tour of France’s wine regions: thus goes the unlikely premise for the comedic duo’s hilarious road movie.
Utterly ridiculous at times, this ensemble comedy is a charming, quirky ode to pastoral living. Bruno and Jean find themselves accompanied for the journey by a smug yet vulnerable Parisian taxi driver (Vincent Lacoste) who scoffs at their ‘hillbilly’ ways.
Combining physical comedy with wry social observation, it’s a physical performance from Depardieu, impeccably controlled as the steadfast father patiently attending to the needs of his mawkish son. Hilarious moments see Jean repeatedly attempting to make sweeping natural allegories that never quite seem to hang together. His slow and steady movements and heavy hands perfectly counter his son’s urgent gesticulation and air of crippling insecurity. The film's unlikely sexual encounters are also brilliant, thanks to a deliciously deadpan female cast, notably Céline Sallette who commands the film's final third.
At the same time the film raises a glass, quite literally, to the rolling hills of France’s Bordeaux regions. Like recent Icelandic hit Rams, Saint Amour laments the loss of respect for a once valued livelihood, and drawing out the contrast between high falutin’ Parisians and simple farmers.
Wonderfully rich and endlessly funny, this is a film that will have you giggling with surprise and delight throughout its full 100 minute runtime. Cringe inducing on occasion – but never excruciating or gratuitously cruel – the film gets its comic balance just about perfect. Saint Amour leaves you feeling warm, fuzzy and with a taste for the simpler things in life: this wine-soaked adventure knocks Sideways out of the park.
|What||Saint-Amour, film review: Berlin 2016 "This screwball pastoral comedy is the surprise festival hit"|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
02 Mar 16 – 02 May 16, 'Saint-amour' film UK release date to be confirmed. Times vary according to cinema
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the film's IMDB page|