I watch a good bit of film. Though I’m no crazy movie fiend, I have taken a course in African film and a French Film class (which was really more focused on comprehension than film construction,) and I have a couple of film-life-intense friends. But it isn’t terribly often that I find a movie that really just moves me in all of the right ways.
Now, because I speak French, you will see me watching as many French films as I will watch American or British films. And something I have noticed about dramatic French films they are so environmentally focused. It isn’t in any grandiose way, no, but they subtly involve scenes of their countryside, of a simple café, or just a small observation of the people. It is, by far, one of my favourite aspects of film, and I think I have found a film that just captures my heart so beautifully because of it.
Oh look at me gushing on and on.
Le fils de l’épicier was filmed in 2007 and directed by Eric Guirado. It’s possible you’ve never heard of this movie. Or maybe you’re better at life than me and you have. Either way, it has been in my Netflix queue for over a year, how it came there I can’t say except perhaps fate.
And, because I’m not some posh film critic I am not going to say this as eloquently as I would like, but here goes. The film is so French. I lived three weeks with a family in Alsace, and even though this takes places in Provence, I can just tell that these guys are French. Old French people are the fucking bomb (I said there would be no eloquence.) Should I explain myself?
Either way, there is a guy, Antoine Sforza. His father has a heart attack, and despite his less than rosy relationship with him, and even his hometown, he goes home to help with the grocery business. The rest of the film is basically him driving along the countryside in a van, like a travelling grocery store, interacting with the citizens who are all elderly. Now, the real reason he goes back is because he has the major feelings for a girl, and she has major desire to study in Spain. So the Antoine “the knight” borrows money from his mother, with the promise of paying it back by driving the van, and gives to the girl, Claire (none of this does he disclose to her though–especially the being madly in love with her part.) Claire comes along with him when he goes home, and she helps calm his rather frustrated and angry ways when it comes to dealing with the customers.
But I think only a little. Seriously, if you read any plot summary of this movie they give a lot of credit to Claire, but I am going to go I don’t know, I guess my heart just really felt so much of the conflict and the resolutions in this story. It’s so simple in it’s telling, nothing is over-dramatised, and you simply feel like you are there, riding along in the van, waiting with his mother in the shop, or one of the elderly people hemming and hawing over how many tins of peas they would like. ahead and give it mostly to Antoine and his day to day encounters with the people in this village. His kindness first peeks out when he goes to an old shepherd’s house. There is a previous relationship there that you almost instantly feel. Then it reaches the polar opposite when he goes to the house of a woman who he and friends as kids used to spy on. But that relationship blossoms so quickly and beautifully into one of the best dynamics I have ever seen, and her hair is just amazing.
I feel like I have done the film a discredit going on about it as I have. I feel almost as if I was meant to watch it now, so that I could feel as strongly as I do about it. It is definitely a film I will need to own. You should watch it. I probably could have started and ended with that sentence and it would have had the same effect.
What are some films that have just spoken to you?
(p.s. If i had written an essay like that for my film classes I would have failed. 1. because I didn’t write it in French and 2. It’s a little all over, but it’s 1:14, and I didn’t write my essays that late.)