Le Fils de l'Épicier
How do you crawl into your life? It's clear from Eric Guirado's new film, The Grocer's Son that it takes more than family. Antoine (Nicolas Cazalé), the pretty anti-hero of this slow moving slice of life, has not moved into his life. In opening scenes he brings his mother home to an apartment of dirty dishes and unpacked boxes. In order to offer her coffee he has to mooch some off of his ambitious and lively friend Claire (Clotilde Hesme). His father recovering from some kind of cardiac attack, Antoine agrees to help out with his father and mother's grocery business in rural France. It reminded me of the question Jesus proposes to the Pharisees in Saint Matthew 21:23-32, about which is more righteous, the son who agrees to work, and doesn't, or the son who says he won't work, and then does. There is the brother, François, who is just as removed from life, and with his own secrets. Arthur hit it right on the nose - a morality tale.
Antoine doesn't learn the grocery business so much as he learns about what it means to live. In crawling into the van, a sort of mobile grocery store, he begins to meet people who have lived and who have stories. He meets his father's life, and in doing so, he begins to understand his own. For those of us who have crawled into our own fathers' lives in a vain attempt to understand our own, this will be an interesting tale. I won't give the details, but it was quite satisfying to me.
This is a study of rural life, of aging, of families that are disconnected from each other, of emerging love - on so many levels, but most of all it is about learning life. The mentors, a crazy woman with wild hair, an old man with hens, and all the other customers on his route, teach Antoine subtle and valuable lessons. This is a very satisfying film.
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