This enjoyable French family drama is a classic ‘Prodigal Son returns home and makes good’ story. After living in Paris for the past ten years Antoine’s (Nicolas Cazalé) life has become stagnant and he is filled with bitterness and anger. When his estranged father suffers a heart attack, Antoine reluctantly returns to his hometown in Provence to help his mother run the family grocery business. Antoine gets the job of driving the grocery van around the region to visit the mainly elderly population who rely on it for their shopping. His initial rudeness and resentment towards his customers soon fades away as he begins to form friendships and confronts the issues he has with his own family.
The Grocer’s Son unfolds at a leisurely pace and it doesn’t hurt that its Provence setting is so beautiful to look at. The cinematography is thankfully simple and unobtrusive, ensuring that there is nothing indulgent or forced about the film, allowing the French country lifestyle to be depicted naturally. The Grocer’s Son is a completely predictable film but it contains enough gentle humour and interesting characters to make it a pleasant way to spend time in the cinema.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 314, 2008