2007 - France - 96 minutes
Director - Eric Guirado
Writers - Eric Guirado and Florence Vignon
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
Talk about your dysfunctional families! The grocer’s family gets the five-star award. Antoine is the subject of the film. He left home as a youth and has been pretty much disowned by his father who wanted him to stay in their small village and help him run his grocery. Antoine has not fared well as an adult. He has no work ethic whatsoever and bounces about from one dead end job to the next.
It appears his only accomplishment as an adult is to have made a very good friend of a young woman named Claire. She entered a bad marriage early in life, got divorced, and is now working to be accepted to an academy in Spain. Now she has a work ethic as she labors all day and studies late into the night in her quest for higher education.
The father is hospitalized, and Antoine begrudgingly visits after an estrangement of almost ten years. Antoine’s brother, François is there and appears to have the same animosity for his brother as expressed by the father. François owns a hair salon and appears to be the picture of the successful family man.
Antoine wants nothing to do with his family, but his mother begs him to come and run the family business while his father is ill. Antoine strikes a bargain with his mother that includes the opportunity for Claire to quit her job and allow her to devote full time to her studies, so she and Antoine move in above the store with his mother. The first surprise that comes to his mother is that Antoine and Claire do not share a room and that their relationship is platonic. Antoine’s mother views this as an interesting insight into her son who, apparently, has always been incredibly self-centered.
While the mother tends the store, it is Antoine’s job to drive a large van equipped as a mini store to the neighboring villages. Most of the customers are elderly and have had long standing arrangements with the father as to payment, etc. Antoine proceeds to alienate just about everyone on the route with his rudeness and unwillingness to comply with the customs established by his father. Claire saves the day when she starts traveling the route with Antoine as she is friendly and compassionate. He learns from Claire and soon becomes more flexible and affable.
Events occur, precipitated by Antoine’s selfishness, that cause Claire to return to the city, and Antoine is left there with his mother to carry on as agreed. When Antoine’s father returns from the hospital, he is still not able to go back to work. Once the father arrives, we get more insight as to why Antoine is so damaged.
This film has superior acting, interesting characters, and beautiful scenery, but it often comes off as somewhat disjointed. I’m not sure if this is due to a weakness in script or editing, but there are, at times, actions that take place that make little sense considering the storyline. None-the-less, it is a good story with charming, insightful characters that creates a positive viewing experience.
December 17, 2008