Ce Qui Nous Lie (Back to Burgundy) – Cédric Klapisch  

Fans of Cédric Klapisch have waited four years for the director to return to the big screen. Is Ce Qui Nous Lie worth the wait?  Klapisch is playing safe with a family drama set among the picturesque vineyards of southern France.  It’s about all the French hold dear – love, family, tradition – and of course, wine.  While there’s no doubting the beauty of a film which follows the life of a vineyard over a one-year period, the storyline between the three main characters lacks the same depth.  The three siblings – Jean (Pio Marmai), Juliette (Ana Giradot) and Jérémie (François Civil) whose relationship forms the backbone of the story are unremarkable and easliy forgotten although Klapisch does bring a welcome contemporary touch to this most traditional of French storylines.  Jean has returned from Australia where he runs his own vineyard with his wife and young son.  Often French winemakers prefer to ignore the existence of wines from other European countries, let alone acknowledge what are termed ‘New World Wines’ despite their popularity.  There’s also a nod towards the environment in the insistance the vines are not treated with pesticides.  But perhaps the most interesting element is that the vineyard is run by Juliette.  Klapisch doesn’t back away from the difficulties she faces in an industry dominated by men even if he doesn’t go far enough in his analysis which is a shame as Juliette’s story is the film’s most interesting and original.

After ten years spent travelling around the world before settling in Australia, Jean returns home to his native Burgundy when he learns his father is desperately ill.  Following his father’s death, Jean, his younger brother Jérémie and Juliette inherit the vineyard and Jean decides to stay to help run the business instead of returning to Australia where his wife and young son are waiting. Over the space of a year, the three siblings reconnect and rediscover the ties that bind them to the land.
Klapisch’s trilogy following the lives and loves of a group of Erasmus students (L’Auberge Espagnol, Les Poupées Russes, Casse-tête Chinois) proved hugely successful at the French box office with each film attracting audiences of over one million.  Ce Qui Nous Lie goes back to one of the director’s favourite themes – individual emancipation – but lacks the chemistry between the lead actors which accounted in large part for the success of his trilogy.  Pio Marmai (Nos Futurs, Maestro, Tout Première Fois) is a competent if somewhat dull Jean. Giradot (Un Homme Idéal, La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai le Coeur) needs more to do, while Civil who showed a talent for comedy in Igor Gotesman’s Five seems less comfortable in a serious role.

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