Destination: Provençe, France
Movie: The Grocer’s Son (Les Fils de l’epicier)(2008)
When I thought about why I enjoyed this movie, it became obvious that the director, Eric Guirado, did nothing extraordinary, but that made the movie delightful.
The movie explores family relationships–harsh father, two sons– one rebellious, one obedient, and a long-suffering mother. There are family secrets (mostly held by the obedient son). There is the familiar return of the prodigal as the younger son goes off to a city life, but with a family crisis, returns to the village to run the father’s business.
On top of the family story, a romance unfolds. Boy meets girl. boy loses girl. Girl comes back. (Okay, that’s a spoiler, but you KNEW she would, didn’t you?)
I think the very ordinariness of the film appealed to me. Believable characters in a lush landscape. As the young son, played by the very appealing Nicholas Cazalé, starts driving his father’s grocery truck to the even smaller settlements in the hills of Provençe, we meet the elderly customers. Clearly, these areas are dying as the inhabitants do not include young people. The elderly characters are interesting and so honest in their portrayals, that the film has the feel of a documentary at times.
And when I learned that the director’s background includes many documentaries, it all made sense.
I fell in love with the sheepherder who had lost his sheep and his wife; the old man who scammed the grocer by not “hearing” the price; the wrinkled face of the woman who pondered her purchases and then bought the same thing each time.
But always there are the twisting roads and the green hills. These people live far away from the usual tourist haunts of France. The director, interviewed in the film’s press kit, claims that he removed the most beautiful scenes because they would have distracted from the story. Imagine that. Provençe is even more beautiful than portrayed. As I plan my trip to France, these images of Provençe will continue to call to me.
Have you been to Provence? Have you ventured out on the country roads? Should I detour from my plan of doing only the north–Normandy and Brittany?
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