Mr. Klapisch lingers his camera lovingly over shots of grapes being harvested and stomped, all the while employing story mechanics and flashbacks indelicate enough to suggest the churn of a factory juicer.
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This story of sibling camaraderie and familial strife at a Burgundy winery unfolds against the backdrop of reliably picturesque views, with its bouquet of largely familiar elements presented with a modern finish.
A film so rich and pleasurable you’d be forgiven if you thought about it each time you have a glass of red.
Still, the family dynamics work out beautifully, and Jean’s return also leads to a deeply affecting revelation of his father’s feelings for him. As far as winemaking is concerned, Back to Burgundy is rich in vistas of the fabled côtes; stuffed with oenophile info (who knew how directly de-stemming affects a wine’s structure?) and studded with casual tastings of wines that most of us can only dream of. A 1990 Pommard? A 1995 Meursault Perrières?
The film’s central metaphor — life is like wine — is an overripe one.
The characters at one stage debate the merits of a smooth, fruity wine versus something more taut and acidic: it would be tempting to say that Klapisch goes too predictably for the first option, but the problems here are more with structure than taste.
When the film focuses on the wine-making process, in the progression from vine to bottle, it's a fascinating and detailed look at a very specific subculture.
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.
It’s more of a table wine – inoffensive, middlebrow and, like the scenes of grape harvesting here, hard work.
Cédric Klapisch correlates wine’s complex arrangement of flavors to the complexity of memory itself, which, it should be said, is the most nuanced of the filmmaker’s wine metaphors.