Festival Review: Saint Amour (2016)

Saint Amour

Another French loser comedy about love, men, wine and heritage, Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern’s Saint Amour finds a gentle, fruity sparkle.


by Mark Wilshin

Saint Amour

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

With supporting roles from Michel Houellebecq and Gérard Depardieu who both appeared in Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern’s previous films Near Death Experience and Mammuth respectively, as well as an under-used cameo from Chiara Mastroianni, Saint Amour is the rather haphazard tale of Bruno (Benoît Poelvoorde), a wine-guzzling farmer’s son desperate to get drunk and find himself a girl, who embarks on a road trip around France’s wine regions with his father Jean (Depardieu) and their Parisian taxi driver Mike (Vincent Lacoste). For one reason or another, they’re all out of love, but as Bruno learns from Mike the art of seduction, as Jean shares a moment of intimacy with the female guest in 208 or as Mike looks up his old flames en route, Saint Amour suggests (somewhat bafflingly), with its three-way copulation with redheaded goddess Venus (Céline Sallette), that this little trio of losers make up one perfect lover; the three ages of man perhaps. But despite its title, at its core Saint Amour isn’t really a film about love – but rather a father-son relationship that finds its culmination in the ring of a prize bull competition, as Jean dedicates his third-place win to Bruno, the son he finally believes he is able to pass his farm onto. Much like the vineyards that the three men stumble through, Saint Amour is a film about wine and French heritage, reclaiming farmers from Hicksville just as Bruno reclaims himself from alcohol-fuelled rowdiness. And while Saint Amour might not be a Grand Cru, it is at times genuinely funny – thanks largely to a big reveal from Depardieu – and an easily quaffable vintage.

Saint Amour is now showing at the 66th Berlin Film Festival

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