Bruno (Benoit Poelvoorde) is that very man, enjoying a weekend away from the farm, in order to begrudgingly support his father Jean (Gérard Depardieu) as enters in to a cattle competition. We gather that their relationship has been strained ever since Bruno’s mother, and Jean’s wife, passed away. Realising his son is in a bad place, Jean decides to treat them both, by paying a hapless cab driver, Mike (Vincent Lacoste) to take them on the official wine tour in France, as they seek in rebuilding their own relationship, and drinking many, many bottles of vino along the way.
Depardieu turns in a brilliantly empathetic display, and uses his physical presence to evoke humour – despite the fact his impressive physical stature was used to enhance the notion of monstrosity, as he grunted his way through Welcome to New York. The venerable actor is evidently at ease with using his size to inform the picture at hand – epitomised in arguably the funniest shot of the movie, where it appears Jean is sleeping alone, and he rolls over to reveal a timid looking woman, who had been lying underneath him the entire time. The actor is behind the most tender, sensitive scene in the film too, where he reveals that he calls his deceased wife and leaves messages on her answer machine.
However Saint Amour loses sight of such intimacy, or subtlety, and though the surrealism equates to much laughter – we almost veer too far in that direction, and move away from the more human, poignant elements which enrich this experience. Deep down this is a sad tale, it just becomes a challenge to remember that’s the case once the sheer absurdity kicks in.