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Posts Tagged ‘Cedric Klapisch’

Ana Giradot, Pio Marmari, Francois Civil

“BACK TO BURGUNDY” My rating: B

113 minutes | No MPAA rating

The opening credits  of “Back to Burgundy” are so seductive that the rest of Cedric Klapisch’s latest film could be a mere afterthought.

Employing time-lapse photography (the gorgeous cinematography is by Alexis Kavyrchine), this sequence depicts scenes from a French vineyard as the seasons change.  It’s a knockout.

And despite some narrative speed bumps, the rest of the film is, too.

With his father dying, Jean (Pio Marmari) at last returns to the vineyard he fled a decade ago to travel the world.  He is greeted — with varying degrees of open arms and resentment — by his siblings. Juliette (Ana Giradot) is the family peace maker; Jeremie (Francois Civil) bitterly resents that Jean never came to their mother’s funeral four years earlier.

Papa’s will makes the three joint owners of the vineyard, meaning they must all agree on any financial transactions. The immediate problem is that to satisfy a huge  inheritance tax bill they probably will have to sell some or all of their land. The three will have just enough time to bring in one more harvest before making a decision.

On one level “Back to Burgundy” is practically a docudrama about wine production. Klapisch filmed over an entire year so as to record the seasonal  changes, and audiences will quickly catch on that wine production is not an exact science.

Inextricably tied to weather and moon cycles, a year’s harvest is basically a massive gamble based on chemistry, collected experience and guesswork. It gets even more complicated when several different grape varieties are involved, all planted in different locales, each with its own specific mini-climate.

One of the film’s most compelling sequences depicts the harvest, with dozens of young people showing up to pick the grapes over several weeks under (usually) sunny skies. The experience is topped off with an all-night going-away party fueled by wines from the vineyard’s  earlier harvests. There is much carousing, singing and snogging.

It’s all so damn romantic and appealing (Klapsich has displayed in films like “L’Auberge Espagnol” and “Russian Dolls” a knack for depicting handsome young people) that one is tempted to drop everything and sign up for a grape harvest. (Like canoe trips and trail rides, this is probably an undertaking more pleasurable in the contemplation than the actual participation.)

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