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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS Jean returns to the family vineyard on the death of his father, and leans the value of family.

Pio Marmaï, François Civil


On a dazzling summer’s day, a lone figure makes his way through Burgundy vineyards. So starts this French family drama by Cedric Klapisch whose love affair with gorgeous positional shots like these knows no bounds. BACK TO BURGUNDY is full of them: long, loving views of rolling hillsides, close ups of sun-drenched grapes, cool shots of wintry fields, warm shots of cosy cellars. So overwhelming is the art design that this glossy brochure of a film almost forgets to tell a story. Small matter, the story isn’t all that interesting anyway and nothing another lovingly crafted shot of a wine glass, glinting at sunset can’t gloss over.

To be fair, BACK TO BURGUNDY is not without its narrative charm. As Klapsich did with his well regarded CHINESE PUZZLE trilogy, he tells the story of a restless soul forced to stop, take stock, and grow up. On the imminent death of his father, Jean returns to Burgundy from Australia, leaving behind a difficult marriage and four year old son. His two siblings, unhappy that he’d run off to the far side of the world in the first place, are underwhelmed by his arrival and even less excited when the three of them inherit their now late father’s estate along with a sizeable tax bill and strings attached.

You can join the dots from here as a predictable learn-the-value-of-family yarn plays out against a hackneyed four seasons structure and a seemingly endless number of grape-y metaphors. From the script to the staging to the performance there’s nothing subtle about any of this. And it wouldn’t necessarily matter if Klapisch’s characters were more likeable. Not that Jean and his family are exactly unlikeable, they’re just not all that interesting and bring nothing particularly new to this oft told tale. We’ve been here many times before and if it wasn’t for the compelling romance of Burgundy and its full bodied heritage, probably wouldn’t be here now.

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