Blood may be thicker than water, but wine is thicker than both. I’m surprised that the tyrannical pater familias and Bordeaux wine legend Paul de Marseul (the great Niels Arestrup) didn’t come up with a line like that, since the old troll was so prone to pedantic, oenological bon mots. Be that as it may, Gilles Legrand’s draggy melodrama about miserable characters who persist in their folly and never wise up is strictly vin ordinaire.
With a better treatment, this might have had the makings of an updated Elizabethan tragedy. Paul, an aging king of sorts, finds his milksop son Martin (Lorànt Deutsch) an inadequate heir to the throne. But after bullying the kid since birth, what did he expect? Paul’s concerns for the future of the vineyard grow more urgent when he learns that his partner, François (Patrick Chesnais), whose uncanny nose and instincts have played a vital part in the vineyard’s success, has come down with terminal cancer. The obvious successor to François would be Martin, the logical next step before he inherits the estate. However, when Francois’s son and Martin’s best friend, Philippe (Nicolas Bridet), a hot shot wine expert currently working at Francis Ford Coppola’s (!) winery, comes to visit his moribund père, Paul finds in him the son he always wanted — to the mortification of Martin and François.