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Back to Burgundy

Back to Burgundy.jpg

Ce qui nous lie
Cedric Klapisch - 2017
Music Box Films Region 1 DVD

The original French title of Cedric Klapisch's new film translates as "What binds us". His working title, the homophonic Le vin et le vent translates as "The wine and the wind". Both titles are both more evocative of the familial conflicts at the heart of the film beyond the return of the prodigal son, Jean, to the family vineyard in Burgundy.

As Klapisch confirms in one of the DVD supplements, the film is something of a return to the kind of films made about twenty years ago with When the Cat's Away and Un air de famille. Both films primarily took place within a specific space, a working class neighborhood and the family home. Klapisch also pared away gimmicks and stylistic flourishes, save for a couple of moments when past and present co-exist. As a film about two adult brothers and a sister, Klapisch knows how to economically film the trio in conversation and be visually interesting without resorting to cutting between close-ups and back and forth shots. What is most radical a break for Klapisch is having a film taking place in a country setting, and using a cast of younger, less familiar actors.

After ten years of travel, youngest brother Jean returns to the family domain upon news of his father's illness. Warmly greeted by sister Juliette, Jean has a more tense relationship with older brother, Jeremie. With the death of the father, Jean stays to help with the impending harvest of the grapes. Jean reveals that for the past five years, he's been married with a son, with his own domain in Australia. The siblings have to decide what to do with the family domain as the income from the wine they sell is barely enough to cover the inheritance tax, while they could enjoy a significant profit from simply selling the land. The original French title is more meaningful with the conflicts between the siblings, whether Jean will return to Australia, Jeremie's attempts to keep the peace with his father-in-law - a competing wine maker, and Juliette's hesitation about taking over the family business.

Klapisch chose to make the film about Burgundy, the wine, as it was the favorite of his father's. Also, wine making in the province of Burgundy is still done by individuals and families, and not industrialized. Effort was made to make every aspect shown in both the vineyards and in the processing as authentic as possible. Much of the credit would go to Jean-Marc Roulot, an actual vinter and actor, who shares screenwriting credit and plays the part of the vineyard's operations manager. While not somber, there are just a few lightly comic moments, another break from the big laughs of Klapisch's more recent work.

Klapisch discusses the unusual making of Back to Burgundy in this brief interview.

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