In recent years, French cinematic icon Gérard Depardieu has been in the news increasingly more, for his Putin-adoration, or for when he viewed the location of an airplane’s lavatory as merely a suggestion, rather than for his acting. He continues to build an impressive body of work (with more than 170 film appearances to date), and Saint Amour is his latest. It’s an amiable – although fairly unremarkable – addition to the rather long list of charming Gaelic comedies. Depardieu is Jean, a widowed farmer who takes a taxi-driven wine tasting tour of France in order to reconnect with his adult son Bruno (Belgian comedian Benoît Poelvoorde), who is going through his own crisis in life, mostly related to his loneliness.
With a head of fluffy white hair, Depardieu still doesn’t look old enough to be Poelvoorde’s father and in fact, only sixteen years separate the two. This is a minor complaint and perhaps demonstrates the lack of vanity that Depardieu has brought to the role. There are many chuckle-inducing references to his weight, which are gentle as opposed to nasty. There are also a fair number of nice (although rather obvious) intergenerational clashes between the men, as well as with their young taxi driver Mike (Vincent Lacoste).
The women in the film are treated somewhat oddly. On one hand they seem to exist solely to pump up the egos of the male characters, but are still treated respectfully by both the characters and the film as a whole. It all becomes rather cloying in the final moments when the characters’ hopes and dreams for the future are actually verbalised, despite already being evident. Their collective character arcs are explained in a single line of dialogue which is so obvious as to be cringe-inducing.
Codirectors Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern take the audience on a gentle tour of the French wine country with an emphasis on male bonding. The ride is not all that memorable, but is still most satisfactory.
Saint Amour does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2016 visit here.
Watch the trailer for Saint Amour here:
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