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IFI French Film Festival 2016 Review - SAINT AMOUR

A farmer and his son hire a taxi driver to take them on a madcap tour of France's wine regions.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern

Starring: Gerard Depardieu, Benoit Poelvoorde, Vincent Lacoste, Celine Sallette



Saint Amour features some of the funniest and smartest moments comedy cinema has offered in recent years, from Bruno's hilarious lecture on 'the 10 stages of drunkenness' to a sight gag involving Depardieu's considerable corpulence that's one for the comic ages.



If Alexander Payne's Sideways and Danish men behaving badly comedy Klown had a drunken, unprotected one night stand, the resulting offspring would likely look a lot like Saint Amour, the latest madcap comedy from the writing and directing duo of Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern.

Delepine and Kervern open their movie with a montage of gigantic prize bulls at a Parisian agricultural convention. With their giant genitals swinging freely, it's as though the animals are mocking the film's human protagonists, three men whose masculinity is so fragile it should be packed in bubble wrap.


Aging farmer Jean (Gerard Depardieu) just wants to take home the convention's top prize for his bull, but his drunken, pathetic son Bruno (Benoit Poelvoorde) is bringing the family into disrepute, swilling wine and behaving obnoxiously towards the female attendees who spurn his awkward advances.

Jean decides the best course of action is to take Bruno away from Paris until the convention's final day, and so they hire a young arrogant taxi driver, Mike (Vincent Lacoste), to take them on a tour of France's great wine regions.


This is no regular tour of wine country. Rather than visiting vineyards and Michelin starred restaurants, the trio stay in the cheapest and most badly run establishments rural France has to offer, swilling rot-gut wine purchased at service stations and pigging out on all you can eat breakfast buffets, all the while attempting and failing to sow their unwanted oats.

Saint Amour veers from one hilarious scenario to the next, managing to find a balance between laughing at its pathetic protagonists and with them. Initially, they seem like monsters, and we wonder if it might be possible to bear their boorish behaviour for an entire feature length film, but we soon get a glimpse into their fragility and instantly warm to their helplessness.


The men talk a big game, as so many delicate men do, but their reality is a far cry from their braggadocio. The widowed Jean can't let go of his late wife, secretly leaving messages on her cellphone's answering service, a scenario which leads to a genuinely heartbreaking denouement. Cocky young Mike boasts in explicit detail of his sexual conquests, but when he visits past girlfriends, ala John Cusack in High Fidelity, we see the truth jars considerably with his fantasy. Only Bruno is honest with his status, freely admitting he expects to die alone due to his lack of appeal to members of the opposite sex.

Saint Amour features some of the funniest and smartest moments comedy cinema has offered in recent years, from Bruno's hilarious lecture on 'the 10 stages of drunkenness' to a sight gag involving Depardieu's considerable corpulence that's one for the comic ages. More than once I found myself creased over in my seat, tears streaming down my face due to uncontrollable laughter. Gather up your most pathetic male friends and sneak a bottle of cheap plonk into the cinema for this one.





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