Review: Back to Burgundy

Set in the beautiful wine region of Burgundy where so many of the great wines are born, Back to Burgundy is a thoughtful story of three adult siblings grappling with their family’s wine business after the death of their father. The French title, Ce qui nous lie, is really a more apt description, meaning “what links us.” There is a very large estate tax that has to be paid and how to pay it makes the family examine their relationships to one another and the meaning of their legacy. And the fact that the older brother has been gone for ten years and only returned temporarily to see their dying father complicates everything.

The three siblings have a wonderful shared history, which we see in flashback, even if some resentments bubble up with Jean’s return. And they all have a great love of wine and wine making. Jean (Pio Marmaï) is the older brother who left to see the world and settled in Australia where he makes wine and has a son his siblings didn’t even know about. But the other two, sister Juliette (Ana Girardot) and youngest brother Jérémie (François Civil), stayed behind. Juliette has assumed the running of the vineyards, and is struggling to be taken seriously in part because she is female. And Jérémie married a local girl and lives under the prying eyes of her parents who also make wine. But as a family Jean, Juliette and Jérémie own a very valuable property. Their lawyer tells them they could sell it all for six million euros! But selling the family legacy is the harder than it seems.

The film’s three leads are all well-known if you watch French television, as I do, and as an ensemble they feel very connected and vulnerable. The film takes place over a year and watching the seasons pass in the vineyards with all that is entailed in making a good vine is fascinating. Back to Burgundy isn’t terribly dramatic, and at times it is a bit too sentimental, but like a fine wine there are complex undertones that you might not notice until the silky finish. I think it should appeal to wine lovers, French film aficionados, and anyone with a couple of adult siblings. And I would definitely plan on heading to your favorite wine bar after you see this one! À votre santé!

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