The following is a preview of my in-depth review of The Grocer’s Son, a great French film from 2008, released by Film Movement.
In French filmmaker Eric Guirado’s The Grocer’s Son, released by Film Movement, 30 year old Antoine Sforza is returning to his family’s hometown in Provence, France where he grew up and where his parents and brother still live and work.
…Together, Mr. and Mrs. Sforza run a little corner grocery store that serves the surrounding communities with a grocery van that Antoine’s father drives into the country so that the elderly villagers and farmers can more easily buy their groceries. The old man is not necessarily the most friendly old grocer around but he is “helpful” and a hard worker – and, unlike many of his competitors, he is willing to trade groceries for goods, like eggs or cake. He has built relationships with his customers that a regular grocer could not make, he is ingrained in the fabric of the community and in many ways is indispensable to it.
… But, soon after the film opens, we learn that Antoine’s old man has had an heart attack and his mother is left to run the store and van by herself (the older brother, Francois, runs a salon and has plenty of his own problems to tend to). So, ever the pragmatist, Antoine, sensing an opportunity to repay his parents the money he owes, heads home, bringing a grateful Claire along for a summer vacation in the country.
To his chagrin, Antoine finds the business in poor condition: the van doesn’t start, his parents have descended into what he considers poor business practices and business is lacking. So he takes it upon himself to right the ship.
Soon, Antoine, faced with the reality of familial and relational conflict, is forced to reckon with his own cynicism and desires contrasted with the very real, painful struggles of those around him. Life is hard, he discovers, for everyone. He’s not the only one whose life hasn’t gone according to plan. Not surprisingly, in the film’s final act, he is forced to decide whether he will act on his own behalf or on behalf of those close to him: whether he will accept the challenge of living a life he had not foreseen for himself in order to make life easier for others.
To read the rest of the full review head over to Into the Hill on Friday.
Here is the film’s trailer: