You Will Be My Son – Gilles Legrand films the pathological fear of death.

You will be my son is a film about power and money and about a persons ultimate reach for power – the power over death.

Cleverly using the father/son mythology of Oedipus and King Laius, this story examines what would have happened if King Laius didn’t bind his sons feet and leave him on a mountain to die, but rather held him close, bound his soul and his heart keeping him close and also at the most perverse of distances.

The problem for Winemaker Paul (Niels Arestrup) is that he virtually witnessed his fathers death. Legacy is an important thing here on the winery, and Paul does not want to go the way his father did. In fact Paul does not want to go at all. Subconsciously, part of the plan to defeat death is to hamstring his son so that his son is never able to take over the running of the winery.  Martin (Lorant Deutsch), as far as we can tell, is a competent wine maker. But Paul makes out that he is useless – only good for administrative work and sales.

However, Francois (Patrick Chesnais)- the wineries chief wine artisan and the heart of the success of the winery, has pancreatic cancer.  He will die. Paul is smart enough to know that without Francois, he is nothing. Strangely an opportunity presents itself in the form of Francois son, Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) who returns to visit with his father. Paul will use Philippe to both perpetuate the high standard of the winery and to take the place of his natural son, who is destined to take his place in real life. Paul mistakenly thinks he can retain control of the people around him if he listens to the mythology and re-interprets it. Paul will use his money and the power he has over the people around him to try to influence his own demise, with disastrous consequences.

Ultimately the fate assigned by the traditions of the winery will be parcelled out respectively.  Just as Oedipus runs from those he thinks are his parents in an attempt to save them and himself, Martin will try to flee the winery that he loves so much, ultimately to avoid actually hurting his father, as the tension has risen to such a point it is evoking violence.

Freud considered the Oedipus Complex to be a desire (in both sexes) to kill their father over the desire they have for their mother. Oedipal anxiety is a name we have given to any complexities that exist within the child parent bond, but culturally we tend to identify it more with the father son relationship. Pop biology has tried to make something of this with theories around “old bulls / new bulls”. Its all the same thing – for the child it is about taking by force or by right that which belongs to the parent so the parent can simply leave with old age. Of course this manifests itself in many different ways.

The way this film deals with it is to have the father so terrified of being usurped by his son that he will inhibit the child from birth from being able to become an effective human being. He will keep his son close by his side, but mostly to torment and slow him down – like a slow form of torture – so that he can control him and ultimately prevent his own death. By refusing the son access to any power, he hopes to castrate his son before his son has a chance to kill him.

Paul’s drive is so strong he is able to come between another father and son team, that is of Francoise and Philippe. Philippe is not so easily fooled, so it takes a lot on Paul’s part to get him to agree to offend Martin and take on the winery where his father made his name. But Philippe is young and egotistical and not as careful to listen to his own father as, coincidentally  Martin is willing to listen to Francois. However, it takes the dying Francoise in the end to stand up to Paul when no one else can do anything in the face of his overwhelming drive.

This is a beautification written film.  The acting is wonderful and the story interesting and complex. The way’s that Paul unsettles Martin are pathological and overt and at the same time hold within the seed of desperation that keeps Martin close. Sometimes, you can be with someone whose behaviour is so erratic and their treatment of you so appalling that you know it is not their true nature and you forgive out of a kind of disbelief that it will continue. It is this complex scenario that is played out beautifully between Martin and Paul and held up strongly by the wonderful acting.  This is an interesting film Gilles Legrand has offered us.