Back to Burgundy
Director Cédric Klapisch is arguably best known for his Spanish Apartment trilogy, comprised of The Spanish Apartment (2002), Russian Dolls (2005) and Chinese Puzzle (2013). Featuring a post-Amélie Audrey Tautou, these films were moderately poignant, not in the slightest bit revelatory and yet still eminently watchable – all distinctions that could easily be applied to Back to Burgundy.
Klapisch’s new feature offers a gentle, somehow familiar familial melodrama set against the backdrop of wine production. Jean (Pio Marmaï) is back at his family’s vineyard after a decade of absence, drawn home by his father’s illness, although he neglected to return for his mother’s death (“It was bad timing, OK?”). The vineyard is largely overseen by his sister Juliette (an excellent Ana Girardot), while his younger brother Jérémie (François Civil) has courted and married the daughter of one of the region’s more prestigious winemakers. Trust is unsurprisingly – and necessarily for the sake of the narrative – in rather short supply amongst the siblings. Their connection with each other (particularly with the seemingly unreliable Jean) must be rebuilt with a new understanding of each other’s adult selves, aided by lashings of wine (naturellement).
The appropriately unceremonious story unfolds against an entirely expected backdrop of attractively composed scenes depicting the ravishing beauty of the region, but some of Klapisch’s visuals can be somewhat jarring. The split screens showing the landscape at various times of the year would look more at home in a music video than in the tale that’s unfolding. It would be a stretch to say that the narrative drags, although a number of key points are telegraphed, so the end result is naturalistic and comforting; an emotional nudge as opposed to an emotional wallop. But an emotional wallop would feel trite in this context, and Back to Burgundy delivers what has come to be expected of Cédric Klapisch – soothingly sentimental and non-manipulative filmmaking that’s eminently watchable.
Back to Burgundy is released nationwide on 1st September 2017.