Review: Return and Burgundy – Ce qui nous lie (2017)

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Return and Burgundy – Ce qui nous lie (2017)

Directed by: Cédric Klapisch | 114 minutes | comedy, drama | Actors: Pio Marmaï, Ana Girardot, François Civil, Jean-Marc Roulot, María Valverde, Yamée Couture, Jean-Marie Winling, Florence Pernel, Éric Caravaca, Tewfik Jallab, Karidja Touré

How hard can it be to make a good wine? Quite difficult, we learn from the French feature film ‘Retour en Bourgogne’ (which is called ‘Ce qui nous lie’ in France). In this good-natured drama we experience the return of the young Jean, who suddenly reappears at the family domain in Burgundy after a long stay in Australia. His father is dying and now he, his brother and sister have to ensure that the family business produces fine wine again this year.

In ‘Retour en Bourgogne’ we experience the entire wine cycle, from inspecting the grapes to testing the wines. We experience the exuberant celebration after the grape harvest, raise a finger to see which way the wind is blowing and carefully taste the young grapes. Because this is a feature film, it is of course also about personal development. Jean has left his young family in Australia and is wondering what to do next, brother Jérémie is under his successful father-in-law and sister Juliette is so focused on the family business that a private life is lost.

‘Retour en Bourgogne’ is a characteristic production by director Cédric Klapisch (‘L’auberge Espagnole’, ‘Les poupées russes’). That means drama is hard to find. Not that Klapisch’s universe is superficial, but the director understands that everyday life, no matter how complex, is rarely the scene of intense drama. Likewise here. Characters die, complicated business decisions have to be made and marriages have to be saved. Although the psychological developments are believable and nuanced, there is no crying, screaming and other dramatic stuff.

That lack of drama is both the film’s strength and weakness. Although the characters are sympathetic and believable, it is difficult to empathize with them. Because of their stable character you know that they will always land on their feet. Compassion is thus meaningless. At the same time, Klapisch shows that everyday life is often as light as a spring breeze, despite what the newspapers and news programs may also claim. That is a message that you hear far too little.

So it’s a nice summer film, but a bit too casual to stick with. But with the beautiful setting of the French wine region and the strong acting of Ana Girardot, we already have two reasons to visit this film. And then quickly to the wine.

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