SAINT AMOUR (France 2016) ***1/2
Directed by by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern
Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Benoît Poelvoorde, Vincent Lacoste
Review by Gilbert Seah
When father and son order a bottle of SAINT AMOUR in a restaurant, the film starts to bubble as the pair take off on an educational wine tour around the wine regions of France. Surprisingly, the education comes in a different form, as the two discover more about life, women and their relationship towards each other, rather than in the wines they savour.
A refreshing French dead-pan comedy, SAINT AMOUR is a road trip movie in which three very different characters embark on a road trip wine tour.
There is the father, Jean (his name perhaps taken from his other farming movie JEAN DE FLORETTE), his son Bruno (Benoît Poelvoorde) who he wants to take over the farm and the reluctant young and handsome 24-year old Parisien cab driver, Mike (Vincent Lacoste), who they hire to drive around France. The best scene has the three of them in the cab as if posing for a photo, goofing around and nudging each other way from the cab mirror.
All during the trip, the three try to conquer the opposite sex. But each has a problem. Firstly, Bruno is an ugly, middle-aged, unmarried farmer who immediately comes across as an uncultured hick. Jean, is old and portly but worst still, has not gotten over the recent death of his beloved wife. He still calls her just to hear her voice on the answering service. (But the voicemail finally gets full.) Mike is young and corky but a past illness of Phimosis has left the tip of his manhood black. He has an inferiority complex so bad that he food the other two to think that he is married with children. But his is a French film in fairly tale mode, so the trio naturally get to prove their manhood each in their own way, by having sex with a red-headed type Lady Godiva who first appears to them on horseback.
The comedy woks primarily for the actors. Both Depardeieu and Poelvoorde are not afraid to reveal their weaknesses. Depardieu is simply splendid as the overgrown old bear snoring in his sleep and grimacing in disgust when he cannot connect with his son. It is an experienced nuanced performance, the best that any actor can deliver in a comedy. Poelvoorde is perfect as the hick, constantly pasting back his hair like a child that does not know how to control his bad habits. Vincent, in real life is 23 and is a hapless charmer. The connection among the three are as ridiculous as one can imagine. But the film charms and entertains, the best thing next to a good French wine.
The film’s additional bonus is the wide range of characters the trio meet during their journey. One is a hotelier who offers them their room in his house while his entire family sleeps snug in one tiny room in order to make space for their guests. Another is a sincere patriot girl, fearful that France will go broke, who is willing to work for free so as to help France decrease her National Debt.
Fall in love with SANT AMOUR!
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