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There doesn’t seem to be a romantic-comedy cliché missing from the bland French domestic Back to Burgundy, a wholly contrived post-adolescent coming-of-age yarn about broody thirtysomething Jean (Pio Marmaï) and his mojo-reviving trip back to his ailing father’s Burgundy vineyard.
Jean acts like a quintessential rom-com hero: He’s a stuck-up urbanite who recharges his batteries by bonding with his country-wise siblings, indecisive caretaker sister Juliette (Ana Girardot) and pouty hothead brother Jérémie (François Civil). The biggest difference between Jean and Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama is that Jean knows how hard his family works to cultivate their dad’s land since he already manages a large Australian winery with his estranged partner Alicia (Maria Valverde).
Unfortunately, viewers may need a drink once they realize how fully Jean and his family members are defined by shopworn tropes. You could even make a game of it: Take a shot whenever Jean either misunderstands or is misunderstood by Juliette and Jérémie. I recommend the scene in which Jean tells Jérémie that he hates their dad for never replying to a years-old letter about his dead mom. Seconds later, Jérémie produces their father’s schmaltzy, never-sent response.
And take a big gulp whenever characters only say what they really feel after they get stinko drunk, like when Jean tells Jérémie’s overbearing father-in-law Anselme (Jean-Marie Winling) that he won’t sell their family’s land to him. Finally, kill your drink once the pseudo-earthy flute, accordion, and turntable-inflected score stops being benignly forgettable and starts being depressingly chintzy.
Back to Burgundy
Directed by Cédric Klapisch
Music Box Films
Opens March 23, Village East Cinema
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