While Saint Amour is a very uneven story, there are a couple of scenes that make the entire movie worth watching. It starts off in a State-Fair-esque festival, where Gérard Depardieu has prepared his bull for the prize show. At the same festival, there are several booths of wine tasting, and Gérard's son, Benoît Poelvoorde, goes on a bender. From there, the movie takes on a Sideways tone, with father and son hiring a driver, Vincent Lacoste, to take them on a wine tour. Next up is a random pseudo-romance with Céline Sallette, who, without warning or immediate explanation, sleeps with all three of them.
What makes it all worth it? Gérard Depardieu, of course. I wasn't sure I was ready to see him with white hair, and I was afraid this movie would try to make him decrepit, but thankfully, his eyes still sparkle and charm. Not many actors can survive a five-decade career and still film sex scenes, so never fear ladies-he's still got it. Speaking of which, it never fails to amaze me how someone who started out making dirty movies in the 1970s turned out to be such a fantastic actor. He puts so much into his roles; he's one of the only actors who can truly flesh out a character's life in a two-hour running time.
In Saint Amour, he's heard leaving affectionate voicemails on a woman's machine. When Benoît overhears him, he gets really upset and accuses him of moving on too quickly from his mother's death. Gérard presses redial and hold the phone up to his son's ear, explaining that he's kept his wife's cell phone so that he can call her up and talk to her when he wants to feel close to her. Benoît's reaction is excellent, full of guilt that he yelled, grief for his mother, and curiosity as to whether it would make him feel better as well. In another scene, the two are in the car during their trip, and Gérard calls his wife's phone again. He leaves her a voicemail updating her on their vacation, then passes the phone to Benoît so he can add to the message. Benoît hesitates, then takes the phone and talks to his mother's spirit. To see these men with tears in their eyes, momentarily happy when they know they'll feel sorrow only a few seconds later, it's a true experience. It feels like we're eavesdropping on a private moment, rather than what could have been the twentieth take in front of a camera.
So, if you want to see a couple of really great scenes, mixed in with some weird plot points, you can rent this movie. Just know what you're getting into and you'll be fine.
DLM warning: If you suffer from vertigo or dizzy spells, like my mom does, this movie might not be your friend. Nearly the entire movie is filmed in an "indie-style" handheld camera, and it will make you sick. In other words, "Don't Look, Mom!"
Kiddy Warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to nudity and sex scenes, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.
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