57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Le Fils de l'épicier (The Grocer's Son) is one of the loveliest films of the year. Written (with Florence Vignon) and directed by Eric Guirado, this little taste of French life is as refreshing as the fruits and vegetables on the traveling grocery van that is a focal point of the story. Though at first glance it appears to be a simple tale of a son begrudgingly taking over his invalid father's business, Guirado has embroidered this story with so many warm details that the film begs to be seen again and again to make sure nothing has been missed.
Antoine Sforza (the gifted and handsome young actor Nicolas Cazalé) is a thirty something young waiter, unable to find satisfaction in his various jobs he opted for when he left his home ten years ago: his relationship with his father was strained and Antoine did not care to 'waste' his life in a village as an grocer (épicier). He has a 'girlfriend' Claire (Clotilde Hesme) who is trying to save money to go to Spain to study, and when his father (Daniel Duval) is hospitalized with a heart attack, he begrudgingly agrees to return home - with the proviso that his mother lend him money that he in turn gives to Claire so that she can complete her dream of studying in Spain. Antoine's brother François (Stéphan Guérin-Tillié) owns a beauty salon and, despite the family's concept that he is the stable one, has troubles of his own. Antoine's mother (Jeanne Goupil) is desperate for help: she has managed to run the little store in the village, but a major source of income has come from the van the father drives through the countryside, selling groceries to the old folks. Antoine is encouraged by Claire to take over the van and even helps Antoine paint the van with rainbow colors to become the 'Épicier Volante'. In time Antoine's brusque and distant personality is affected by the warmly humorous and significantly needy yet friendly old folks. He makes friends and extends himself as never before.
Claire wins her audition for Spain, the father is released form the hospital, François' life falls apart, and Antoine feels he must pay back his mother and move on. But the bonds between the changed Antoine and his family as well as his deep attachments to the old folks convince him to alter his plan for his life.
Many of the 'old folks' are cast from villagers who Guirado met while scouting for his film and these 'actors', together with some very fine character actors such as Liliane Rovère, give the film a feeling of authenticity. The scenery is gorgeous, the music is apropos, and the performances by the lead members of the cast are superb. This is a film to treasure - repeatedly. Highest Recommendation. Grady Harp, July 08
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2009
"The Grocer's Son" tells a quiet story. Young Antoine (Nicolas Cazale) returns from Paris to his home town in Provence to tend his parents' small store while his father recovers from a heart attack. His friend Claire (Clotilde Hasme) comes along. His parents' family business includes an old van that makes the round of local crossroads, selling groceries mostly to the elderly. So Antoine begins making the daily rounds.
The photography of the Provence countryside is wonderful. The village scenes and the elderly actors give a viewer an agreeable glimpse of another country and society. There's French languor and mood music. The film's low key and slow pace help focus on the characters and how they change in the course of the film -- as Antoine, whose life in Paris had been unsuccessful, comes back into the ties of family and community which he had once rejected.
As we see from other relationships in the film (Antoine's brother, or his high school friend who runs the local garage), though, ties that bind can also be ties that burden. Willingness to accept the burdens is an important milestone in life.
"The Grocer's Son" harks back to the story of the Prodigal Son, set in a different place and time. When so many movies feature exploding cars, robots or aliens, or stomach-turning crimes, "The Grocer's Son" provides a welcome change of pace.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2008
It's been a while since I saw a French film that I really liked. I think the last one was LES VOLLEURS that starred Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil. There was a time when France used to make brilliant films, one right after the other. This was called the French New Wave that consisted of Truffaut, Goddard, Rohmer, etc. Well, I'm happy to report that THE GROCER'S SON is every bit as good as anything that came out of the French New Wave. Actually, it reminded me more of a Rohmer film: a character study. It's a very observant and perceptive film on growing up: when someone stops thinking about themselves and appreciates other people. The relationship between Antoine and Claire exemplifies this point. Antoine is clearly only thinking about himself when he decides not to mail Claire's academic papers. Eventually, he takes on life's responsibilities (he decides not to quit his job as a grocer) and starts thinking about other people (his customers). Highly recommended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2009
Even from his earliest days, Antoine Sfouza has made it the goal of his life not to have anything to do with the family business. That`s why, in his late teens, he left the town where he was born and raised and headed off to the big city in search of fame, fortune and a better life for himself. The problem is that now, at the ripe old age of thirty, Antoine finds himself an embittered ne'er-do-well loser, waiting tables in a sidewalk cafe and living in a dreary one-room flat in Paris, all but estranged from the family that raised him. But after his father is hospitalized with a heart attack, Antoine reluctantly returns to help his mother and brother run the grocery store, which, as a part of its service, operates a van that travels around the local countryside, selling goods in towns and villages too remote to have a fully stocked grocery store of their own. It becomes Antoine's job to drive and man the van, even though his gloomy demeanor and prickly personality don't make him exactly a prime candidate for such an assignment.
Eric Guirado`s "The Grocer's Son" might just as easily have been titled "The Grocer's Prodigal Son," since the movie is a fairly transparent update of that well-known story from the Bible. Yet, lucky for us, the screenplay by Guirado and Florence Vignon fleshes out the allegory with fully realized characters and the kind of family dynamics that can only be hinted at in a brief parable. In a carefully understated performance, Nicolas Cazale plays the brooding, almost completely unsmiling Antoine, who eventually comes to learn that a life spent cut off from the people around him is no life at all. The charming Clotilde Hesme co-stars as the free-spirited and independent 26-year-old college student who rooms and boards with the family and who becomes a major catalyst for change in the young man`s life.
This is a movie that sneaks up on you slowly and wins you over by degrees - until, in the last half hour or so, it becomes a lyrical, really quite beautiful tale of redemption and compassion, of accepting responsibility and finding one's place in the world. Add to the mix an array of sweet and winning performances by a tremendously gifted cast, a lilting musical score by Christophe Boutin (played mainly on guitar), and generous helpings of lovely French countryside rolling on by, and you have a truly touching and memorable film that will lift your spirits and, for a brief moment at least, make everything seem right with the world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2011
This film, set in eastern France, is a true-to-life story of a grocer incapacitated by poor health and his son who chooses to come to the aid of the family business...in this case, a traveling grocery. It's hard to believe that the star of "The Grocer's Son", Nicolas Cazalé, (with his matinee idol good looks) could ever be the black sheep of the family, but here he is, and he accomplishes his role with just the right amount of passion and distance.
As he begins to travel around the countryside in his portable van, Antoine (Cazalé) finds that his customers aren't always what he bargained for and in the process, turns many of them off. But his girlfriend, Claire, (Clotilde Hesme) comes to the rescue and charms those on his route. The tensions abound between Antonio, his father, (the chief antagonist) his understanding but ineffectual mother and his headstrong brother. Yet at the end, Antonio has grown in his understanding of people in general, and his family in particular. It makes for a wonderful film and I highly recommend it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Grocer's Son" is a charming little movie. It builds slowly and wins you over at the end. Working in its favor: the inherent likability of its two leads, Nicolas Cazalé as the brooding, sensitive Antoine and Clotilde Hesme, super-adorable as Claire.
The storyline by co-writers Eric Guirado (who's also the film's director) and Florence Vignon is pitch-perfect. Antoine, floundering professionally and personally in the big city, returns to his village to help out in his parents' shop (and, more notably, their food truck) after his Dad's stroke. Antoine and his Dad have never gotten along, adding to the son's less-than-sunny outlook on what will happen back home. Indeed, the old antagonisms between father and son soon arise. The one bright spot: Antoine has invited his erstwhile urban neighbor, Claire, to the village for the chance to allow her to complete her studies free from the city's cacophony.
The plot device here is the food truck - it's [literally] the vehicle that allows Antoine to get out and see the town and interact with the populace. This isn't a cool, hip food truck circa 2010 serving the likes of Belgian Waffles and Korean Tacos in trendy urban settings. Rather, Guirado and Vignon are showing us how local shopkeepers have used these trucks to service the remote, elderly and car-less in rural France. It's a fascinating, realistic peek at French life.
Over time, it's the truck that is Antoine's salvation. Despite a very shaky start, he slowly builds his salesmanship and people skills and - as a by-product - the relationship with his father. What doesn't hurt is Claire's effortless charm, on full, natural display the times she comes along in the truck. There's a rupture in the slowly building Antoine/Claire relationship in the last-third of the film. Antoine comes to the slow realization that he has to win her back. He launches a low-key, long-distance charm offensive, completely in character.
All in all, I got tremendous enjoyment out of "The Grocer's Son." Guirado and Vignon have crafted a real winner, one that smells and feels like life as it's actually played out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Some months ago I discovered and have started watching the releases from the Film Movement's on-going library of foreign and indie releases and recently I picked this one up.
"The Grocer's Son" (96 min.; originally released in France in 2007) brings the tale of Antoine, whose father, the grocer, falls ill, and as a result Antoine leaves the big city (Lyon) and returns to Southern France to take over the delivery route his father did, bringing groceries in a van (at some point renamed "The Flying Grocer") to mostly elderly folks in the countryside. The movie moves slowly, and that is exactly the point, as the movie ultimately is an ode to the slower and simpler life of people in the remote country side. Along the way, Antoine fights with his family, discovers love and comes to appreciate the lifestyle on the country side that he thought he had left for good. The beautiful scenery in Southern France is as equally an important part of the movie than the actors themselves.
In all, I quite liked this movie. Nothing earth shattering, but a slice of life simpler and slower than most of us are used to. I also can't say enough about the outstanding quality of continuing releases of great foreign and indie movies by Film Movement.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful film--good story, excellent cast and superb setting. Lead actor, Nicolas Cazale, won a French Oscar (Cesar) nomination and the film and cast garnered several festival awards. "The Grocer's Son" follows a familiar theme--returning home to find oneself. In this case, it's 30-year old Antoine Sforza who's been bouncing around Lyons for some years, who grudgingly returns to help out his mother run the family grocery store in the French countryside after his father's disabling heart attack. The habitually self-absorbed Antoine drives a grocery truck on a village circuit that services a wide group of elderly rural folk and finds himself challenged to be more than just a butter and egg salesman. Antoine comes to realize that his daily appearance with the truck is often as much a social service as a source of provender. Antoine's savvy neighbor and secret crush, Claire, whom he has brought to the village with him, has this figured out rather quickly and does what she can to steer him in the direction of harmony with the clients.
As he gradually evolves as a grocer and local citizen and neighbor, Antoine is also pushed into resolving his ongoing conflicts with his father and brother--both of whom have more serious problems than he does. All of this adds up to a very agreeable coming of age story, albeit one with the frequently vague French-film ending where not every loose end is completely tied off. This is my thoroughly American take on the conclusion; a French filmgoer would probably see it differently.
In any event, a lovely film with the additional pleasures of interesting and amusing secondary characters and gorgeous scenery (looks like southern Auvergne or Rhone Valley to me) as backdrop. Highly recommended.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2009
Sulky, indifferent, wayward, son Antoine reluctantly agrees to run his sick father's grocery business. Elder son Francois is far too busy trying to make good in his hairdressing salon and feels he's done enough already. Antoine is accompanied to the south of France by a neighbour, Claire, under the pretext that she would find it easier to study in the countryside, rather than in the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Antoine's utter ineptitude and inability to relate to the elderly, rustic clientele prompts Claire to develop an interest in the travelling grocery side of the business. Meanwhile, the story fairly crackles with the dialogue of family dysfunction, batting back and forth between the characters like a mountain thunder storm. Claire is a hapless by-stander as the grocer's wife does her best to retain her dignity, while the men snipe at each other.
By contrast the scenery is stunning, showing the beauty of this mountainous region of France. The aging customers served by The Van are full of life, humour, vigour and eccentricity, and there are many well-observed and humorous moments.
A `will they, won't they' theme develops between Antoine and Claire. It is tantalisingly drawn out across most of the film, adding suspense to the other tensions and frictions between expertly portrayed characters. The inept and gruff male characters are mercilessly harangued and tripped by the female characters in an attempt to make them see sense and change their views of life and relationships. Will it ever dawn on the father and his sons that the reason they have trouble with other people is their own stubborn fault?
A delightful, sweet, compelling drama. You can not fail to be delighted.
on May 2, 2015
Young man has to return to small French village to take care of the grocery store that his mother and father run after his dad suffers a heart attack. He returns with his girlfriend. She studies. Mom runs the storefront. He drives the grocery van to the surrounding remote villages. This is not one of those obvious movies like we usually get in the US. You just have to watch it and come to the conclusion. But the slow pace of life, the elderly customers all grow on the guy until he wants to stay. The ending is a little muddled. What happens between him and the girl? We don't know. Sounds like a typical modern non-committal fly by the seat of your pants relationship which is a let down to me. He gets "Hassan" to return with him to help out which is doesn't really fit. We don't know about the parents. Tying up the loose ends at the end would have helped round out a decent movie.