Cédric Klapisch’s first endeavour since completing the Spanish Apartment trilogy is Back to Burgundy, a film which sees three siblings clubbing together to run their late father’s vineyard. With a promising start, this affable French drama does drag somewhat in the middle stages, as you find yourself wishing away the finale. Unlike the good wine they create, this one doesn’t appear to get better over time.

Upon learning that his father is unwell, Jean (Pio Marmai) returns back home for the first time in a decade, having relocated to Australia to start a family. Not soon after he returns his father passes away, leaving him with his two younger siblings, Juliette (Ana Girardot) and Jérémie (Francois Civil) in charge of the family business. Though pleased to see him – given he didn’t ever come home, not even for their mother’s funeral, there are bridges that need to be rebuilt, and conversations that need to be had – for this vineyard isn’t going to run itself.

Back to BurgundyOne of the film’s vital subplots concerns the legalities of their ownership of the vineyard, with the siblings seeking advice as they’re unsure whether to pay the inheritance tax, or start to begin the auctioning process. Thankfully, while much property jargon is inflicted upon the viewer, the three protagonists are equally as naïve as we are, and persist in having the explanations simplified so they can understand it, which in turn, helps us.

Klapisch even makes jokes about how they need everything relayed to them like dummies, which is emblematic of a film that is littered with nice little moments, and clever, witty sequences – such as when they hire people to help pick grapes, and in the morning when the employees all wake up together in the living room, we hear all of their alarms going off at the same time.

Sadly, such moments are not sustained, as a film that is just slightly too long, evoking a sense of tedium as we progress towards the closing stages. But it doesn’t take too much away from a film that is easy to get along with for the most part, complete with a genial tone as we balance comedy and pathos successfully. Well, most of the time anyway, as there are a handful of mawkish moments (particularly prevalent in flashback sequences) that just takes the edge of a film that is otherwise full-bodied and sweet, and complete with a crisp finish.

Back to Burgundy is released on September 1st.

Back to Burgundy
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Stefan Pape is the reviews and interviews editor for the site. Considering his favourite thing to do is watch a movie and then annoy everybody by talking about it - it's safe to say he's in the right job.