The Grocer's Son (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Emotionally engaging, impressively directed and superbly written French drama with strong performances from Nicolas Cazale and Clotilde Hesme.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Eric Guirado, The Grocer's Son stars Nicolas Cazale as Antoine, a 30-year-old waiter living in Paris, who reluctantly returns to his family home in Provence when his estranged father (Daniel Duval) falls ill. With the help of his best friend Claire (Clotilde Hesme), who he has a secret crush on, Antoine takes over the family mobile grocery business, driving from tiny village to tiny village to deliver supplies to the elderly inhabitants.

While his mother (Jeanne Goupil) makes no secret of her delight in Antoine's return, his presence causes a lot of friction, not least because his father and his older brother (Stephan Guerin Tillie) have never forgiven him for leaving in the first place. Meanwhile, Antoine gradually warms to his new role, while struggling with the fact that Claire plans to leave at the end of the summer in order to study in Spain.

The Good
It's fair to say that there are no real surprises in the plot, although Guirado refuses to push his script into sentimentality overload – there are plenty of opportunities for easy tears but the film's low-key approach seems much more realistic. It's also worth noting that Antoine himself isn't an instantly likeable character and it's only through his gradual interactions with both Claire and the villagers that we come to like him (just as, the implication is, he comes to like himself).

The performances are excellent, particularly Clotilde Hesme and a scene-stealing Liliane Rovere as Antoine's most difficult customer, Lucienne. There's also strong chemistry between Hesme and Cazale that works well, especially during a nicely edited painting scene / love scene.

The Great
The film is also beautifully shot and there's a lot of gentle humour in the script, while Guirado isn't averse to chucking in the odd slapstick moment.

Worth seeing?
A box office smash in France, The Grocer's Son is well worth seeking out, as it's a hugely enjoyable, well written, feel good drama with strong performances. Highly recommended.

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The Grocer's Son (12A)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 10:08

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